Justin Thomas/Carlos Sainz win inaugural 'Netflix Cup'
3 Min Read
Written by Michael LoRé
Jet lag couldn’t slow down Justin Thomas and partner Carlos Sainz, as the 15-time PGA TOUR and two-time major winner and Formula 1 driver sped to victory in the first-ever “Netflix Cup” on Tuesday evening at Wynn Golf Club in Las Vegas.
Thomas, who was coming back from the DP World Tour Nedbank Golf Challenge, played Nov. 9-12 in South Africa, and Sainz, a driver for Scuderia Ferrari, defeated Tony Finau and Pierre Gasly of BWT Alpine in a closest-to-the-pin contest that served as the “playoff hole,” played after the two pairs advanced following their respective victories in an eight-hole scramble streamed live on Netflix.
Justin Thomas' excellent tee shot secures the victory at The Netflix Cup
The winning duo was awarded black-and-white checkered jackets and the inaugural Netflix Cup trophy from Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos and Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei before being doused in champagne by a shirtless Bert Kreischer, the comedian who was part of the event’s hosting team along with TOUR player Joel Dahmen, sportscaster Kay Adams and NFL star Marshawn Lynch.
The PGA TOUR, F1 crossover was the first live sports event for Netflix, which leveraged stars from two of its most popular sports docuseries: “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” and “Full Swing.”
“We go through experiences every week with pro-ams and people that play golf for fun and recreationally that think they maybe expect to be better than they are or should be,” Thomas said before the event. “But like these guys, they don’t play golf, just like we would be atrocious at what they do. They’re going to be a lot better at golf than we would be at driving.
“We’re here to have a good time.”
And a good time was had by all, especially the winning duo.
Starting off the event with a “lights out” par 3, where the fastest team to finish the hole regardless of strokes earned the early advantage as well as the tiebreaker, Thomas and Sainz snuck in ahead of Rickie Fowler and McLaren’s Lando Norris to go 1-up.
In the second matchup, Finau and Gasly jumped to the lead over Max Homa and Alex Albon of Williams after Finau -- a last-minute fill-in for Collin Morikawa, who had to withdraw due to injury -- quickly drained a birdie putt.
The pairs battled back and forth as the sun slowly set and the Sphere lingered in the distance.
Tee shots aimed at the Sphere at The Netflix Cup
At the midway point, Thomas and Sainz remained 1-up, while Homa/Albon and Finau/Gasly were tied through three.
Not just a regular golf contest, the fifth hole was dubbed the "Squid Game Hole" as the players played a game of "Red Light, Green Light," waiting for the "Squid Game" doll to turn her head before teeing off or face a penalty. A giant plastic ball with $4.56 million awaited anyone who sank a hole-in-one to be donated by the PGA TOUR to charity.
Not only was Thomas fresh off 30-plus hours of travel back from South Africa, but Homa, who won the Nedbank Golf Challenge, also racked up the frequent flier miles before venturing to Las Vegas for the can’t-miss event.
“Doing something for the first time that it’s ever happened is a pretty cool opportunity,” Homa said. “With the 'Drive to Survive' show, I was never into F1, but it sucked me in. Saturdays and Sundays my mom calls and fills me in on what happened because we can rarely watch during the season. I met Carlos at the Ryder Cup, too.
“Something like this is unique, it sounded amazing and everyone involved is awesome, so I was intrigued to have the opportunity to do it.”