Justin Thomas thinks rollback would help him but he's still against it, hints PGA Tour may not be on board with possible change
Justin Thomas is not a fan of a rollback from the governing bodies … despite believing he would personally benefit from it.
Thomas, speaking Wednesday at the Valspar Championship a day after the USGA and R&A proposed a new golf ball testing standard for elite competition that could see a major reduction in driving distances, did not hold back on his feelings towards the announcement.
The two-time PGA champ said he was “disappointed” by the news, but “not surprised” by the developments before sharing his thoughts on the USGA.
“I think the USGA over the years has—in my eyes, it's harsh, but made some pretty selfish decisions,” Thomas said. “They definitely, in my mind, have done a lot of things that aren't for the betterment of the game, although they claim it. I had conversations with some USGA members and it just—to me, I don't understand how it's growing the game. For them to say in the same sentence that golf is in the best place it's ever been, everything is great, but...
“And I'm like, well, there shouldn't be a but. You're trying to create a solution for a problem that doesn't exist. To me, it's so bad for the game of golf, for an opportunity—I mean, some of the great things to me is the fact that you can play the exact same golf ball that I play. I mean, that's cool. For an every day amateur golfer, it's very unique that we are able to play the exact same equipment. Yeah, I understand that I may have a different grind on a wedge, whatever you want to call it, but you can go to the pro shop and buy the same golf ball that I play or Scottie Scheffler plays or whatever.
“But the USGA wants to bring it to a point where that's not the case. They want it to be, okay, well, the pros play this way and the amateurs play this way, and that just doesn't—I don't understand how that's better for the game of golf. The amount of time, money that these manufacturers have spent trying to create the best product possible and now you're going to tell them and us that we have to start over for potentially if the PGA Tour, PGA of America, don't adopt this local rule. So for two of the four biggest events of the year we're going to have to use a different ball? Like, try to explain to me how that's better for the game of golf.”
Thomas continued that the USGA is basing the decision “off the top 0.1 percent” of all golfers, and stated his belief that no one is saying golf is not fun anymore because players are hitting it “so far and straight.” He also took issue that “5- to 15-handicapped amateurs” are determining the rules of golf for professionals, and hinted that the PGA Tour may not follow suit with a potential rollback.
“I can't speak on behalf of what [the tour is] planning on doing. But to my knowledge, they haven't necessarily been on board with it or wanting to pursue the rolling the ball back,” Thomas said. “I mean, I'm all for not letting it go any further. And I think this is another important thing, like, this would help me. Rolling the ball back is only going to help, I feel like, somebody who hits it far and is a good ball-striker. It's just an advantage for me even more so, I feel like, than I have and I'm still not for it. It's just—it's a bigger picture. It's about the game of golf. If I can hear some reasons that claim it's better for the game of golf, then so be it, but I've yet to hear any.”
Following Tuesday’s announcement, the PGA Tour released a vague, noncommittal stance regarding possible rollback. “We will continue our own extensive independent analysis of the topic and will collaborate with the USGA and The R&A, along with our membership and industry partners, to evaluate and provide feedback on this proposal,” a statement read. “The tour remains committed to ensuring any future solutions identified benefit the game as a whole, without negatively impacting the tour, its players or our fans’ enjoyment of our sport."
This is not the first time Thomas has been at odds with the USGA. In 2019 Thomas took issue with the revised Rules of Golf, both their implementation and the USGA’s communications regarding the changes. The USGA’s Twitter responded by calling out Thomas for canceling planned meetings. Thomas countered by saying the tweet was “shocking” and inaccurate.”