What did Justin Thomas say? Golf champion’s homophobic slur after a missed putt explained - and his apology

Thomas made the offensive comment at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii and has now been dropped by Ralph Lauren

Monday, 15th March 2021, 8:34 am

On 14 March, champion golfer Justin Thomas won the Players Championship, as he saw off Lee Westwood at TPC Sawgrass.

The golfer’s performance in the final round of the tournament was faultless, a far cry from when he uttered a derogatory homophobic slur following a missed five-foot par putt at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January.

Thomas apologised for his language and the offence it caused, but has since been dropped by one of his many sponsors.

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Justin Thomas during the final round of the Sentry Tournament Of Champions in Kapalua, Hawaii. (Photo: Getty Images)

Thomas told how he was “extremely embarrassed” following the incident, adding that he was “very apologetic”.

But what did he say and was he penalised by Tournament officials? This is what happened at the Hawaiian tournament.

Who is Justin Thomas?

Born in Kentucky, the American sportsman turned professional in 2013 and won his first pro tournament at the 2014 Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship.

During his 2017 season he won five PGA Tour events, including the PGA Championship, his maiden major championship, and also won the FedEx Cup championship.

In May 2018, the 27-year-old golfer was crowned world number one and is the current defender of the Sentry Tournament of Champions,the calendar-year opening tournament of golf's PGA Tour season, which is currently taking place in Hawaii.

Thomas is third in the world, ranking below american Dustin Johnson and Spaniard John Rahm.

What did he say at the Sentry Tournament?

On 9 January, after missing a 5-foot par putt during a tournament at the championships, Thomas uttered: “fa***t”, a highly offensive term used to describe gay men.

The homophobic comment was heard via television microphones which Thomas was unaware of.

He has since issued an apology, referring to the comment as “inexcusable”.

Following the third round, in which he made the comment, Thomas issued the apology and explained how he never knew the microphone would pick him up.

On 9 January, he said: “First off, I just apologise. I'm an adult.

"I'm a grown man, there's absolutely no reason for me to say anything like that. It's terrible.

"I'm extremely embarrassed. It's not who I am, it's not the kind of person that I am or anything that I do.

“Unfortunately, I did it and I have to own up to it and I'm very apologetic.”

He addressed the situation again on January 10, explaining that the situation had been his main priority, despite battling for top spot in Hawaii.

He told reporters that he “didn’t have to explain myself,” but added: “I clearly screwed up. I made a terrible, terrible judgment call.”

The defending Hawaiian tournament champion said: "Golf wasn't the main thing on my mind today,

"Usually, being four back going into Sunday I'm thinking about one thing and one thing only and that's trying to win the golf tournament.

"But I obviously had a lot of other things on my mind last night. I mean, I apologised yesterday. I don't need to explain myself. I clearly screwed up. I made a terrible, terrible judgment call.

"But I thought a lot last night that we grow a lot as people over time. I wish that I could learn to grow a different way than the way that I chose to do it, but unfortunately it's in the past and there's nothing I can do about it now.”

Will Thomas be penalised?

It is not known whether the PGA will take action against the golfer, as the PGA tournament does not disclose punishments.

However, a spokesperson for the tournament commented: “As he expressed after his round, we agree that Justin's comment was unacceptable.”

However, Thomas was dropped by sponsors, Ralph Lauren, following the incident.

The clothing brand announced their decision in a statement on 16 January, telling how the golfer’s language was “entirely inconsistent with our brand”.

The statement read: “At the Ralph Lauren Corporation, we believe in the dignity of all people, regardless of age, race, gender identity, ethnicity, political affiliation or sexual orientation.

“This is part of our longstanding commitment to foster cultures of belonging - in the workplace and in communities around the world.

“We are disheartened by Mr Thomas' recent language, which is entirely inconsistent with our values.

“While we acknowledge that he has apologised and recognises the severity of his words, he is a paid ambassador of our brand and his actions conflict with the inclusive culture that we strive to uphold.

“In reflecting on the responsibility we have to all of our stakeholders, we have decided to discontinue our sponsorship of Mr Thomas at this time.

“As we make this decision, our hope is that Mr. Thomas does the hard and necessary work in order to partner with us again - truly examining this incident, learning, growing and ultimately using his platform to promote inclusion.”

Similar action could be taken by Thomas’ sponsors, which include Titleist, Footjoy, Polo, Citi, NetJets, Woodford Reserve and Beats.

Thomas is still expected to compete in Abu Dhabi on the European Tour later in January.

Despite his comment, he is keen that his strong start to the golfing year - currently ranking third in Hawaii - will continue.

As another day of the tournament wrapped up, Thomas said he is excited for the year ahead and pleased with his performance on the course.

He said: “It's a good start and get a week off before going to Abu Dhabi, a place I've never been, so I'm excited for that.

"Golf-wise, I definitely, I feel great about the start.”

He added: "I mean, the golf seemed pretty irrelevant today for me in terms of what the mistake that I made yesterday, but in terms of my golf, I love where it's at and I really feel like that I played well this week,

"I shot 24 under through four rounds, 10 shots better than last year, and it's not going to get it done."