The USGA fired back at Justin Thomas after he took to twitter to voice his opinions over the two-shot penalty assessed to Adam Schenk and explained his 'problem with the rule'
Justin Thomas made his feelings known on social media about the new rule involving caddies lining up their players after a two-shot penalty was assessed to Adam Schenk at the Honda Classic, and the USGA were quick to fire back after he called them out for not communicating with the players.
Thomas first responded after the PGA Tour released a statement about the decision to give Schenk a two-shot penalty for violating Rule 10.2b (4) during the second round of the Honda Classic, which states that a caddie cannot stand behind a player when they are taking their stance.
The statement from the PGA Tour read: “Adam Schenk has been assessed a 2-stroke penalty from the second round of The Honda Classic for violation of Rule 10.2b(4) on the par-3 17th hole. The penalty occurred as a result of Adam’s caddie standing behind him once he took his stance, but not taking any action subsequently that would absolve him of penalty, for example backing out of his stance. As a result, Adam's bogey-4 on the hole is recorded as a triple-bogey-6, dropping his score to a 1-over 71"
Thomas had originally retweeted the statement from the PGA Tour's communications twitter account with the caption #growthegame, but expanded on his feelings on the issue when questioned.
"My problem with the rule is that unless a caddie is clearly lining a player up (which is very obvious), I don’t see how there’s any benefit to it," Thomas tweeted. "Doesn’t make the game any better in my eyes. That being said, we know the rule and have to be careful to go by it."
"A lot of times caddies just stand back there and talk. Whether it’s the yardage we have, etc. or maybe I ask him to assess my lie and that’s the most sensible place to look at it, from behind. I agree lining somebody up.. but if the caddie clearly isn’t, unnecessary"
It was the third time this much debated rule has been violated, with Haotong Li being adjudged to having broken the same rule at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic earlier this year that dropped him from 3rd to 12th in the event. At the time, players branded the ruling 'a disgrace' and 'ridiculous', and similar feelings were stirred up after the latest snafu.
Denny McCarthy was then also given a penalty for breaking Rule 10.2(4) in Phoenix, but after outrage on social media they rescinded the penalty. It was a point Thomas brought up after one twitter user told him that "the game needs the support of its top players not a bashing every time someone gets penalized. Stoking the fire on twitter does more harm than good."
Thomas replied, “Really? Because last I checked in PHX my pointing out what happened to Denny went viral… and the rule was changed. Pretty sad the world we live in nowadays is all based off social media. But that’s how a lot of things get done. I (and others) are doing as much as we can to help.”
Thomas did conceed that players should be aware of the rules and play to them, but called out the USGA for not communicating.
"Totally agree...," he wrote. "I more so say things in hopes that the USGA starts communicating with the current players to better the game and the sport. The rules are rules, no getting past that. Just hoping going forward, communication is had and ALL GOLFERS benefit from any changes"
But the USGA didn't like it, and replied to the World No.3 from their @USGA_PR account by calling him out for cancelling meetings with them, and stating they had been available to talk to at five different tournaments.
"Justin, we need to talk," the account wrote. "You’ve cancelled every meeting we’ve planned with you, but we are reaching out again. We were at the first 5 events, and tournaments last year, and your tour has had a seat at the table for 7 years. We’d love nothing more than to give you a seat. Call us."
Thomas clearly did just that, but didn't reply publicly on twitter, because they soon thanked him for connecting with them.
"Justin, thanks for connecting with us offline. We look forward to meeting with you and talking through these issues. It's clear we both want to do what's right by the game."
Afterwards, JT called it a day on his ranting, and said the reason he spoke in the first place was to improve the game.
Since then, he spoke about the USGA's reply at the Honda Classic, calling it 'shocking', 'upsetting' and 'inaccurate'. Read the story here