Justin Thomas calls for Ryder Cup to be played on 'neutral' course

Justin Thomas has called for the Ryder Cup to be staged on a “neutral” course after feeling the biennial contest has become “lopsided” due to home dominance.

Europe’s win over the Americans in Rome in September meant the last five matches have seen the hosts come out on top, with the last away victory having been at Medinah in 2012.

“I think it's a lot of things,” said Thomas, speaking in his press conference for this week’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, of the US losing 16.5-11.5 in the Italian capital after handing out a record 19-9 hammering to Europe at Whistling Straits two years earlier.

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“I have definitely found after being on the two losing Ryder Cup teams versus the Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup teams that I've won that you spend a lot more time afterwards thinking about what could have gone differently.

Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas chat during the 2023 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome. Picture: Jamie Squire/Getty Images.Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas chat during the 2023 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome. Picture: Jamie Squire/Getty Images.
Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas chat during the 2023 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome. Picture: Jamie Squire/Getty Images.

“When you lose, you start over analysing and overthinking, in my opinion, everything. I would definitely say if we had it over (again), there would probably be some guys that would have played maybe a little closer to it, but that's easy to say because we got our asses kicked.

“It's hard to win. I think I would love to see a scenario down the road potentially where maybe an unbiased or neutral organisation sets up courses for the Ryder Cup. I think it's just looking, you know, at the last handful of Ryder Cups, how lopsided they've been.

“I think that's part of it is the home course advantage, right, but I think there could be some times where it could be fun just to have someone set it up and kind of play the course as is.”

Thomas has tasted defeat in his two away matches so far and was asked if he could give some examples of how he felt the Americans might have been disadvantaged at Le Golf National and Marco Simone Golf Club.

“I don't think you can necessarily stand on every tee and you're like, ‘oh, well, this is better for Europeans because of this or this is better for Americans because of this’,” added the two-time US PGA champion.

“Every single Ryder Cup you go to, it's like when it's in the States, the fairways are huge and there's not much rough. Then you go to Europe and the fairways are really narrow and there's a lot of rough. So clearly there's something.

“Like playing the French Open there, at Le Golf National, I knew that golf course was tough. It was very similar for the French Open as it was for the Ryder Cup. I didn't play Medinah, but I remember watching it on TV, or Valhalla, watching it on TV. How there was zero rough and fairways were big, how penal the rough was this past Ryder Cup.

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“It's nothing crazy. You would argue, which I totally agree with, just play better, hit the fairway, hit the green, make the putts. I don't know if other guys feel the same way, but it could potentially just change some of that disparity maybe.”

Meanwhile, Tiger Woods isn’t giving the 2025 captaincy at Bethgate Black in New York any thought at the moment due to the fact he’s heavily involved in the framework agreement talks between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

“Right now there's too much at stake with our tour to think about a Ryder Cup,” said the PGA Tour policy board member, also speaking at the Albany resort in Nassau, where he’s hosting an event that will carry an increased prize fund of $4.5 million this week before rising to $5 million in 2024.

“We have to get this done and we have to be focused on this right now. The players and everyone involved understands that this is an issue we need to focus on.”

It was claimed that Patrick Cantlay didn’t wear a hat in the match in Italy as a silent protest about his belief that Ryder Cup players should be paid.

Asked about that, Woods said: “Well, what transpired there, it was media, it was just noise. Then obviously the fact that everyone now carries a mobile device and that was able to spread (as European fans teased Cantlay by twirling their hats and singing songs).

“You're not on home soil, so they're going to try to get in your head and that's what they tried to do. I totally get it. Emotions. We all want to win. You have a home side and opposing side, you're going to get heat and that's what happened.” Should players be paid in the Ryder Cup? “That wasn't an issue,” insisted Woods.

According to Jordan Spieth, there is no rush for the Americans to appoint Zach Johnson’s successor, with Luke Donald having been encouraged by Europe’s top players to stay on for a second stint after being hailed as an outstanding captain in Rome.

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“Yes, because it's far enough away,” said Spieth of being told what Woods himself had to say on the matter. “I think first and foremost the fact that his mind is on that is probably best. And because of how deep he dives into everything he does, he's not going to want to do something unless he can put his entirety into it and I don't think he'd be able to think about that right now and wonder what that would look like.

“But I believe that there's a chance that it can all get done and it would be a dream to play for him as a captain. I wasn't able to do that in (a Presidents Cup) Australia, make that team, so I'd love to do it some day and him putting everything into that would be pretty awesome to watch.”



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