There’s the age-old knock on “older” people — they hate change.
Looks like Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas are doing everything they can to show that young people hate change as well.
Rules changes to be exact.
There have been storms brewing on the PGA Tour this season thanks to new rules that change the way players take drops, what caddies are not allowed to do, among others.
Fowler’s gone crazy over the drop-procedure change. Used to be shoulder-height, now it’s knee height and Fowler got hit with a penalty last week when he made a drop from shoulder height and didn’t correct himself.
Fowler basically mocked the new drop technique this week when he squatted as if he was on a toilet and made a drop.
If that’s not enough, Justin Thomas got into a full-blown Twitter war with the USGA at the Honda Classic.
After J.T. started in on his Twitter account, the USGA responded:
“Justin, we need to talk. 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.”
That one got under J.T.’s collar:
“It is unfortunate. It really hurt me. It was upsetting to me because the information they put out there was inaccurate in terms of me cancelling meetings, and that doesn’t make me look good, and that’s just when I got a little upset. We had talked, some communication with them, because I know those guys. I’ve talked to them about the rules this year. We’ve all tried to communicate and tried to get better relationships with them. It’s just, it is what it is, and all we’re looking is to better the sport and better the game.”
That was Thomas’ response to the USGA.
The USGA went into more detail:
“I’m going to continue to reach out early this week,” said John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s Senior Managing Director of Championships. “We are in touch with him frequently, some of our staff is. He’s a former Walker Cupper. We feel a close bond with him. Look, it’s clear, I’m sure to everyone, that direct communication is the best way to go. That’s where we’re going to go with this.
“We are going to talk with Justin, and we are happy we will have an opportunity to have a conversation in a few days, hopefully.”
“It was a little upsetting, just because it was inaccurate,” Thomas said. “I haven’t cancelled anything, especially any meetings, but it is what it is, and all I want is the best for the game of golf and the best for the sport, and that’s what we’re going to continue to try to communicate with each other, to get that.”
Then Bodenhamer added:
“We are going to talk with Justin, and we are happy we will have an opportunity to have a conversation in a few days, hopefully. Look, we will do whatever it takes in cooperation with the Tour.”
Fowler, Thomas and other players came to the support of Adam Schenck, who was penalized before the start of his round on Saturday because his caddie was behind him while Schenck was evaluating a bunker shot at the 17th hole. It was obvious that his caddie, Mark Carens, was not lining him up, rather helping him pick the spot where he should land his ball on the green. The penalty came because Schenck had taken his stance and not started over with the stance.
“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,” the PGA Tour said in a statement.
“It was just a really tough shot,” Carens said. “We were just talking about where to land it, to have the best chance to make four. Where I was standing was really the only place I could, besides standing the bunker . . . It was really the only place I could talk with the people yelling.”
Carens was frustrated, believing the environment dictated where he needed to be to do his job.
“I don’t think it’s fair,” he said.
Rule 10.2b(4) is a new rule restricting where a caddie can stand behind a player. Controversies over its enforcement created a player backlash early this season. After Denny McCarthy was penalized for a clearly unintentional violation at the Waste Management Phoenix Open four weeks ago, the PGA Tour took the unusual step of rescinding the penalty a day later. The USGA and R&A then suspended the rule, until clarifying a few days later. The clarification was designed to prevent penalties for caddies standing behind their players without “deliberate” intent to align them.
“I was upset,” Schenk said when asked how he reacted to news he was being penalized. “I felt like I was polite. But I was just asking questions, and after a couple questions I was just like, I’m just going to get a two-shot penalty, so I might as well just go warm up. I just tried to put it out of my mind.”
“The intention was never to cheat,” Schenk said. “So, we were just talking about chunking it in front of us, or leaving it in the rough, or the bunker, so that’s what we were talking about.”
Schenk made bogey there, but it was changed to a triple bogey before the third round began. Schenk said he was informed by a rules official on the driving range 40 minutes before he teed it up on Saturday. The official showed him the violation on an iPhone.
Maybe, maybe not.
But Fowler and Thomas are not happy campers and they have a lot of company as well.