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Justin Thomas “hurt” after “unfortunate” Twitter spat with the USGA over the rules of golf; meeting pending

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Justin Thomas has not been shy this year when it comes to criticizing the new rules of golf and how the USGA has implemented those rules, and over the weekend while Thomas was in action at the Honda Classic, the relationship between the two appeared to come to breaking point.

Before the event at PGA National began, Thomas described the rule changes made from the USGA and R&A which came into effect on January 1st as “terrible” in a pre-tournament presser. While after he was unable to replace a club mid-round on Thursday which he bent after playing a shot from behind a tree, the 25-year-old stated that “You can just add that one to the list of rules that don’t make any sense.”

Thomas’ mood didn’t improve after finding out that fellow pro Adam Schenk was assessed a two-stroke penalty on Friday for violation of Rule 10.2b after Schenk’s caddie was judged to have been standing directly behind Schenk as he took his stance on the par-3 17th hole.

Clearly dismayed with the ruling, Thomas took to Twitter to re-ignite his feud with the USGA with a series of tweets criticizing the decision.

What happened next is unprecedented, with the USGA’s Twitter PR account directly tweeting Thomas and asserting that the two need to talk, while claiming that Thomas had “cancelled every meeting we’ve planned with you.”

It’s unknown who exactly was behind the USGA’s tweet to Thomas, but after Sunday’s round at PGA National, Thomas described the incident as “unfortunate” and how he felt hurt, particularly with the organizations claim that he had cancelled every meeting with them, a claim which he stated was false, per Golf Channel.

“It really hurt me; it was upsetting to me because the information they put out there wasn’t accurate in terms of me cancelling meetings and that doesn’t make me look good.

That’s just when I got a little upset and we had communication with them (the USGA) because I know those guys, I’ve talked to them about the rules this year. We’re trying to communicate and get better relationships with them. All we’re looking (to do) is better the sport.”

A follow-up tweet from the USGA PR account confirmed that Thomas had been in contact offline and that a meeting between the two is in the offing. According to Thomas, however, no date has yet been set.

“We’ve tried to get on a couple calls, and I was in the middle of this three-week stretch, so I was like, look, I’m sorry, this time isn’t very good. But we’re definitely going to talk at some point, but we’ve had conversations this year multiple times with a couple different people.

“It’s not like it hasn’t happened. It’s just, it hasn’t the last three weeks because I’ve been at a tournament, and that’s my main focus.”

 

 

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Gianni is a freelance writer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Diploma in Sports Journalism. He can be contacted at gmagliocco@outlook.com. Follow him on Twitter @giancarlomag

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Tiger Noods

    Mar 4, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    OK, so let’s say JT didn’t make some meetings. Does that change anything? No, it doesn’t. The rule is still ambiguous.

    If the USGA says, “We are still ready to meet with you; just find a time and we’re there,” Ok, no big deal. What was tweeted was a call out. It was “the boss” embarrassing that crap-talking employee. And under what circumstance now does anyone think this will be in good faith?

    The USGA was wrong. They continue to be wrong. They have botched the rollout monumentally. And now they are tired of hearing how badly they’ve screwed this up. Of course, it’s not going to stop, and this needs to cost people their jobs at the USGA.

  2. Im A Unicorn

    Mar 4, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    seems like he can dish out the smack… but can’t take it when it comes back round his way

  3. Early Extender

    Mar 4, 2019 at 2:25 pm

    I don’t know many fans or players, if any, who would argue that the new rules are an improvement. And I’m a JT fan. That being said, saying you were “hurt” after being confronted by a body you’ve repeatedly criticized lately is a total millennial snowflake move. Man up, set them straight if need be. But don’t act like a victim, even if what they said wasn’t accurate.

    • James

      Mar 4, 2019 at 2:45 pm

      Agreed that “hurt” was a pretty b*tchy word to use. However, it doesn’t mean his argument is unfounded. Personally, I like RF’s approach: mock the insanity.

    • Belacyrf

      Mar 5, 2019 at 7:38 am

      I say the rules are an improvement and think these PGA children need to learn to adapt to CHANGE like the rest of us do in the real world. Stop whining and taking to the internet like spoiled children and reach out to have an adult conversation with adults who are trying to do what they can to make the rules simpler.

      I’ve found most of the people out in social media don’t even know the reasoning behind the rules. It’s insane to think that brand new rules might not need some tweaking, but to cry as if their lives are wreck because they need to adapt to change… typical spoiled brat behavior.

  4. Dennis

    Mar 4, 2019 at 2:10 pm

    I don’t care. Which shirt is he wearing in the picture?

  5. Mower

    Mar 4, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    Just like in the movies when you’re not expected to show up in a closed meeting. “Sir! You’re not allowed in here!” Exclaims the secretary.

    Justin swings open the door to the great room. “I’m here bi**hes!”

  6. Travis

    Mar 4, 2019 at 12:23 pm

    Don’t poke the dog and get upset when it bites you. The USGA rules have been controversial, but JT’s conduct in addressing the USGA has been confrontational and childish.

    • James

      Mar 4, 2019 at 2:41 pm

      Calling a spade a spade is not confrontational, except to parasites. Brutal honesty is necessary in a free and just society and the USGA is nothing. Who appointed these armwaving children as the gods of golf?

    • Tiger Noods

      Mar 4, 2019 at 3:28 pm

      Has it? Before you reconsider, think presidentially…

  7. Terry Dixon

    Mar 4, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    What we need is USGA-A, United States Golf Association for Amateurs and our own set of simple rules

  8. Jack

    Mar 4, 2019 at 11:50 am

    The USGA is hurting themselves once (how ’bout many dozen times) again. The USGA needs a lesson in communications themselves. It is the USGA that will be damaged by their tactics, not the tour pros.

  9. EA

    Mar 4, 2019 at 11:40 am

    JT – if your schedule was so busy and your main focus was on golf, why setup multiple meetings or calls in the first place? You state that golf is your main focus but you have no problem with scheduling and then cancelling calls due to “golf tourney just popped up” had to cancel. You have plenty of time to tweet and bitch but when someone says let’s talk, all of the sudden you’re busy.

  10. dat

    Mar 4, 2019 at 10:41 am

    More corporate decision making to keep those fat cats in a job when it actually harms the game. Pathetic.

  11. James

    Mar 4, 2019 at 10:33 am

    CYA USGA! Nice ring. There were no meetings scheduled and you lied about them to discredit Justin. “Call us” does not mean a meeting is scheduled. Just because you write them down doesn’t mean they are mutually agreed to. Now get a job instead of being a bunch of overpaid blueblood talkers and armwavers.

  12. Brian McGranahan

    Mar 4, 2019 at 10:24 am

    What a snowflake. Boooohoooo, I don’t like a rule and want it changed.

  13. Dave

    Mar 4, 2019 at 10:14 am

    I’m tired of the USGA always being the story. Some of these changes have missed the mark. Why is an Ob ball penalized different from a ball hit into a water hazard? Isn’t the water hazard ball by definition ob? The drop rule is bad. Why penalize a player if he/she drops from higher than knee height? I get what the USGA is trying to do, but I think some if these changes have missed.

  14. Eastpointe CC

    Mar 4, 2019 at 9:36 am

    All of the rule changes this year and ridiculous FOR THE PROS. For us hacks they are beneficial. There needs to be 2 sets of rules. Also if they really want to speed up play all they need to do is allow range finders. There is so much guess work that it doesn’t really change anything except speed up play.

    I may be i the minority but I LOVE the fact that the USGA called him out. AND I fully believe that he canceled these meetings with them.

  15. iutodd

    Mar 4, 2019 at 8:20 am

    What BS from the USGA. Calling a professional golfer out on Twitter like that makes your PR department look like they don’t know what they’re doing and that the USGA has a bad relationship with the players.

    And it’s hugely unprofessional on the part of whoever runs that Twitter account. Grow the game?

  16. JD

    Mar 4, 2019 at 8:13 am

    This is turning into the NFL, ambiguous rules that make no sense. All it is going to take to ascend into full chaos is someone with a one stroke lead in a major being assessed a two stroke penalty that costs him a trophy.

    Like NFL refs, they are going to put these rules officials in the position of making judgement calls dependent on the circumstance. Imagine having to give Tiger a penalty after failing to drop the ball correctly after hitting one in the water on 12 at Augusta. That guy would be clubbed in the parking lot.

    • scooter

      Mar 4, 2019 at 3:17 pm

      Funny you mention Tiger and Augusta … but the incorrect drop after hitting the flagstick and going in the water already happened years ago and the hole was #15 … and he was penalized without any bloodshed (although a lot of hand wringing about dis-qualification). Lets face it, guys have lost majors for rules infractions … see DJ.

  17. Ryan Barry

    Mar 4, 2019 at 7:58 am

    He’s a child and has acted like one for years. If the average golfer breaks a club he doesn’t leave his buddies and go home to get a replacement, etc. Play without it, you’re a pro. If the rule is your Caddie can’t be behind you in stance, then make sure your Caddie isn’t there. What’s the big deal? If they warn him and two guys make less money for his strokes, how is that fair to those players losing purse?

  18. Erik Morden

    Mar 4, 2019 at 7:47 am

    Why do they want to talk to him are they upset that he is actually calling them out for being stupid. I also want to know why the USGA is so focused on this one rule. Why dont they talk to players that are playing slow instead of having what seems like solo focus on the caddy issue.

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Ernie Els announces final 3 Presidents Cup vice-captains – which includes 2 previous Masters champions

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Ernie Els has revealed that Mike Weir, K.J. Choi, and Trevor Immelman will take on the role of vice-captaincy for the 2019 Presidents Cup.

The trio joins Geoff Ogilvy, who Els named as one of his vice-captains back in November, in what is a truly international team of captain’s assistants.

Both Choi and Weir have experience with the vice-captaincy role, with Choi being a part of Nick Price’s team in 2015, while Weir was an assistant captain under Price in 2017. Immelman will be making his debut as a vice-captain.

Speaking concerning his choices for assistant captains, Els cited the importance of his vice-captains coming from all corners of the globe and stressed how a “new formula” was needed to previous regimes to help the International side defeat the U.S. team for just the second time in the event’s history.

“We’ve got almost every continent covered with these four guys. So that’s basically why I chose these guys, and we really need to change things up from previous Cups. And I wanted them to buy into this new formula and make them take this formula forward.”

The South African also mentioned how he would be approaching the pairing process for the event at Royal Melbourne differently than his predecessors, and that he would be leaning heavily on statistics and science before the biennial team event kicks off in December.

“I’ve seen what other captains have done in the past. In this instance, I really wanted to try and start a new thinking process around the pairing system. I’m using a lot of data, a lot of science into what we’re going to be doing in December in Australia, and I wanted to get guys who have played a lot of Presidents Cups like myself.”

U.S. captain, Tiger Woods, has thus far appointed three vice-captains — Fred Couples, Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker. Woods has the option to choose one more captain ahead of the event.

The 2019 Presidents Cup gets underway on Dec. 12 at Royal Melbourne Golf Club, the site of the International team’s sole victory in the event back in 1998.

 

 

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Morning 9: OWGR point allocation issues | Reed on switch to Titleist irons | Els picks assistants

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

March 20, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. OWGR issues
Overshadowed by rules-related discontents, many tour pros are less than thrilled about the allocation of Official World Golf Ranking points. So great is their grieving that the PGA Tour tasked a duo of mathematicians to investigate.
  • Their findings: Relative to the PGA Tour, other tours are allocated too many points.
  • An AP report with this anecdote…”Against a field as strong as some majors, Tommy Fleetwood shared the lead after 18 and 36 holes, played in the final group and was still in the mix at The Players Championship until a tee shot into the water on the 17th hole. His three-way tie for fifth was worth 16.53 ranking points.”
  • “Earlier that day, Guido Migliozzi won his first European Tour title at the Kenya Open, which until this year was a Challenge Tour event. The strength of its field was slightly weaker than the Boonchu Ruangkit Championship on the Asian Development Tour in January…Migliozzi received 24 ranking points, the minimum for the European Tour.”
2. Captain Els picks Choi, Immelman, Weir
Captain of the Presidents Cup International team, Ernie Els named K.J. Choi, Trevor Immelman and Mike Weir to join Geoff Ogilvy as his assistant captains for the December event.
3. Good on them
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols with the news that a pair of the expecting Brittany Lincicome’s sponsors will pay her full contracts for 2019, even though she won’t meet the required minimum number of starts.
  • “…Two of her sponsors, CME Group and Diamond Resorts, will honor her full contracts in 2019 even though she won’t play a full season.”
  • “Lincicome, a two-time major winner, and husband Dewald Gouws are expecting a baby girl, due Sept. 1, two weeks before the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles.”
  • “I mean, I never thought in a million years that they would do that,” said Lincicome. “I feel so honored and blessed to be represented by two great companies that are going to do this. It’s just fantastic.”
4. Pepperell’s process
Never change, Eddie Pepperell. He’s a bit from the Englishman following his T3 finish at The Players, via Doug Ferguson at the Associated Press.
  • “There is a method to what others might consider madness.”
  • ”’Historically, whenever I’ve been at courses a long time, come Thursday I can be de-motivated,” Pepperell said. ”I don’t want to work my (tail) off too hard on Monday through Wednesday. That represents you’re lost. I don’t want to be lost. That always represented a sign of struggle for me.”’
  • “Pepperell is more interested in being technically sound….”Most courses are in front of you, require good shot-making and skill,” he said. ”It doesn’t matter how well I know a golf course. If I’m struggling with technique, I ain’t going to go out there and beat these guys.”’

 

5. Monahan speaks
Golf Digest’s Stephen Hennessey mined the transcript of PGA Tour Commissioner, Jay Monahan, for some of the most interesting morsels.
Here’s one.
  • Q: “You mentioned some things you wanted to sort of button up with the other organizations. Can you give an example of something where you feel like the relationships have been strained and need fixing, and is some of that related to your view on distance versus what they’re kind of building to with their distance study?”
  • MONAHAN: “I think — so the way I’ll characterize that is that if you look at — let’s talk about slow play, my favorite subject. There’s a lot of discussion about slow play. And when you have six or seven different organizations that have different policies and different perspectives and we’re not each fully aware of what those are, that may not be serving the best interests of the game. So how do we learn from each other on a subject like that? How do we diagnostically look at something that is getting a lot of discussion and ultimately can we improve? So that would be one.”
  • “Driving distance is another. How do we fully understand each other’s perspectives, and then how do we have good debate and discussion about what the solutions, what the opportunities or where we go from here. But I just think that — and I want to be clear that this is on us, too. We just need to be more transparent, more forthcoming about our thinking across the board, and I think that’s going to get us to a good place.”
6. Reed’s switch to Titleist irons
Andrew Tursky at PGATour.com talked to Patrick Reed about his wholesale iron switch ahead of last week’s Players.
Why the big iron switch on the week of THE PLAYERS?
  • “I needed a new set because my irons were getting worn out. When I talked to the Titleist guys, I was fortunate enough that they were able to help me out and work with me to get a new fresh set of irons into play. After they built them, I absolutely loved the way they I hit ’em and how they were performing. From that point on, I felt like I had to get them battle-tested and put them under-the-gun, and I was able to do that last week…I actually got them that week (of THE PLAYERS). I was looking for new irons already because, my Callaways were great, they were just worn out. The grooves were gone.
  • For me, (I just had to) make sure (the Titleist irons) had the right weight and the right swing weight, because they looked the same and felt the same going through the turf (as the Callaway irons). For me, it was just making sure they were fresh. I knew I needed a fresh set leading into this stretch [of tournaments]. When I tested [the new Titleist irons] on the range, they were unbelievable on Tuesday, and Wednesday when I played on the course they were just as well. I felt like… I hit them great on the golf course, I just needed to dial in distances a little bit…They feel great. I look forward to continue playing with them.”
Reed also added that Titleist’s tour van added the lead tape to match the head weights to his previous gamers.
7. Eyes on Akshay
Golf Channel’s Will Gray on the 17-year-old phenom, Akshay Bhatia, who will play in this week’s Valspar Championship, and his somewhat atypical path to turning pro.
  • “Like many skilled players his age, Bhatia aspires to turn pro. But his timeline is significantly shorter than most of his peers, as his amateur career is measured in months, not years. He is open about his plan to turn pro later this year, eschewing any thoughts of college in a decision he made along with the help of his father, Sonny, and “inner circle” when he was still in middle school.”
  • ‘”I’ve never liked school. I’ve never been very smart, like sitting in a classroom, and I have the worst attention span when it comes to it. But I love being outside and love playing golf, just competing,” Bhatia said. “So my dad was like, ‘You know what? Let’s just not go to college. Let’s not do it.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, that’s fine.’ I mean, I’m an eighth-grader, of course I’m going to say no to school.”‘
8. A tiny oral history of Ho Sung at Pebble

Stellar stuff from Anna Katherine Clemmons at ESPN, talking to the folks who teed it up with Ho Sung Choi at Pebble Beach…

“AARON RODGERS, PACKERS QUARTERBACK: I watched video of his swing, and I tweeted that I’d love to play with him because I already had a Pebble Beach partner, Jerry Kelly, who leans a ton. I thought that’d be a fun pairing.”

“JERRY KELLY, THREE-TIME PGA TOUR WINNER: I thought the swing wasn’t real. Then I saw he’d won in Japan, so I tweeted, “Hey, my long-lost brother on the Japanese Tour!”

“CHRIS O’DONNELL, ACTOR WHO WAS WITH RODGERS, KELLY AND CHOI AT PEBBLE BEACH: I’d seen his swing when it first went viral. Then, when the pairings came out, I asked, “Who is Ho Sung Choi?” Later I watched the video again and was like, “Oh my god, it’s him!”

“RODGERS: His impact positions are incredible. He tees it up so high, and other than a popup on 10, he really hit it well off the tee. He’s super flexible-it’s like a yoga backbend. I tried to do one at one point on the range, teasing with him, and my back started hurting.”

Full piece.

9. The 14
If you didn’t catch our new series (in partnership with TXG), I think you’ll want to. Johnny Wunder and TXG’s Ian Fraser do a deep dive into the PGA Tour winner’s WITB in “The 14” (like, half-an-hour-long video deep). If you’re a gear junkie, it’s must-watch stuff.

See “The 14” here.

 

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Rahm’s water ball at 11: Is the Spaniard his own worst enemy, or should his caddie have stayed silent?

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Few shots on the course have stunned golf fans and analysts alike more than Jon Rahm’s water ball on the 11th hole while leading the Players Championship on Sunday.

The exchange prior to the shot went viral on social media, which has now been removed by the PGA Tour. With his caddie, Adam Hayes, pleading for Rahm to lay up, the Spaniard pulled rank and proceeded to fire his ball into the water, in a moment of madness which proved a fatal blow in his bid to capture the Players trophy.

Immediately after the incident, announcers called the move “perplexing” as well as explaining how they “didn’t understand any of that,” referring to the seemingly rash decision made by Rahm after what appeared to be a calm and constructive assessment of the situation with his caddie.

Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee went even further than those commentators, calling the fiery 24-year-old’s decision and subsequent water ball “the most baffling decision” in the history of the tournament.

Rahm, however, came to a very different conclusion to what had occurred. With the ball taking a splash, the Spaniard lost his cool and was audibly heard saying “I was so f****** sure the first time,” which could only allude to him believing that his caddie had injected some doubt into his mind, causing the error.

Another water ball at 17 sank his chances entirely, and speaking after the round, Rahm stuck to his guns, believing that he had done the right thing and confirmed how he believed that his caddie’s involvement had hindered him.

“Adam was trying to convince me to go right. When I first got to the ball, I was really sure I could do it. If you give me 10 balls, besides that one, I’ll hit the other nine on land. Unfortunately, I got a little bit of doubt in me.”

Veteran caddie Kip Henley, speaking to GolfDigest, explained that while Hayes and the rest of America knew he was suggesting the right thing, he had no choice but to back down.

“Ninety-eight percent of America looks at that and knows Adam was making the right call. Birdie is great, but par doesn’t kill you, and a good caddie is able to look at the situation without as much emotion as the player.

“The whole time you’re fighting you better be aware where your guy is leaning because if you know he’s not coming over, you need to start backpedaling. You then need to make him feel like it’s a good decision. Everybody does that. You read your guy, and you find a way to change your tune.”

How the incident will affect their future working relationship remains to be seen. But Rahm’s refusal to accept that he may have been better served by listening to his caddie while speaking after the event is only likely to ignite the doubts over the Spaniard’s impetuous temperament.

 

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