‘God awful’ rule costs Thomas a one-stroke penalty

Justin Thomas doesn’t like the rule.

It cost him a one-stroke penalty anyway.

Thomas was assessed the penalty when his ball moved after he grounded his putter on the par-3 11th hole during the second round of the Tour Championship Friday. Thomas was preparing to tap in a two-foot bogey putt when the ball moved.

The incident was similar to one that cost Dustin Johnson a penalty stroke when he won the U.S. Open earlier this year. He was assessed the penalty on the fifth hole after it was deemed the ball moved before a putt. Johnson went on to win the major by three strokes.

“It’s nothing against the rules officials,” said Thomas after officials showed him video of the incident. “It’s a God awful rule. It’s the same exact thing that happened to D.J. The rule says if playing on a flat surface, if you put the putter behind the ball and the ball moves, you’re deemed to have moved the ball, which I told them I totally agree with.

“I put the putter behind the ball. One thing, it’s not like it was right behind it. … I looked at the green book and it’s a four percent grade. … I just have a hard time believing that’s a flat surface.”

Rules officials deemed the ball to be at rest. The stroke turned the score into a double-bogey on the way to a round of 1-over par 71.

Mark Russell, the Vice President of the PGA Tour Rules and Competition, issued the following statement: “The ball was at rest on the putting surface. There were light winds today. It had been at rest for quite some time and the moment that Justin put his club behind the ball, the ball moved. In that situation, the evidence is against the player and he was penalized.”

Thomas is 1-under par for the tournament and tied for eighth place. He insisted following the penalty there was no intended deceit.

“Guys, I’m not here to cheat,” Thomas said. “I’m not going to tell you that I didn’t make it move when I did. If I made it move, I’ll be the first to tell you. I’ve signed a lower score and DQ’d myself before. If I want to move up the leaderboard, I’ll make more birdies, not by trying to cheat.”