Justin Thomas’ homophobic slur down to a lack of awareness, says Robert Lee

Justin Thomas hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons at the Sentry Tournament of Champions when he apologised for letting slip a homophobic slur after a missed putt, and Robert Lee feels his mistake was down to a lack of awareness.

Justin Thomas messed up on day three of the Sentry Tournament of Champions, expressing a homophobic slur that was picked up by a microphone after he missed a short putt. He was devastated, embarrassed, apologetic and admitted there were no excuses.

“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, but it’s unfortunate that I did it and I have to own up to it and I’m very apologetic,” he said.

The PGA Tour will have their protocols in place for this, and there’s no doubt Justin Thomas should be sanctioned and punished appropriately. The least he can expect is a fine.

His apology was sincere and genuine, and he was clearly mortified by what he had uttered. He said that’s not who he is, and he came out with a slur he knows he shouldn’t have used and was deeply offensive.

Does this mean we shouldn’t watch Justin Thomas play golf anymore? People would have to be pretty small-minded to look at it that way. I’ve always enjoyed watching him play golf, and I will continue to do so.

Unfortunately for him, he’s made a huge mistake with that unacceptable homophobic slur, and he admitted himself there was no defence for his actions. It appears that he didn’t realise he had even said it until he was questioned after his round.

He knows how wrong it was, and it doesn’t matter that he was talking to himself. It was a moment of madness, and it’s sure that the PGA tour will react.

When you are a professional sportsman competing at the highest level, there is an awful lot of stress attached. If you’re a golfer, your whole world revolves around trying to get the ball in the hole in fewer shots than anyone else.

They play on the edge, that’s why you hear the odd swear word, that’s why you see the odd club throw. There’s a frustration you just have to release sometimes, and various players do that in different ways.

That doesn’t excuse what Justin Thomas said, but at least he held his hands up and was clearly contrite and mortified by the incident. You can call yourself many things in a fit of pique, (but not anything!!) even if we have to apologise on air for the bad language.

But Thomas crossed the line and we don’t really know why.

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Maybe it’s just a lack of awareness but a player of Justin’s profile and high-standing in the game can’t afford that when people are working so hard to combat prejudice in all its forms.

He needs to be switched on in the future, and he won’t make that mistake again. Justin faces an uncomfortable fallout from this, and he’ll have no doubts about the incendiary nature of his comment.

Justin Thomas has learned his lesson the hard way, and hopefully it’s a lesson learned for many.

Scott’s blunt schedule assessment

Adam Scott made it quite clear what he thought of the PGA Tour schedule, and his attitude towards the average events on the circuit.

Let’s be honest, the Sanderson Farms is never going to have the prestige of the Masters. But it was an interesting insight into Adam’s mindset, and goes a long way to explaining why he hasn’t won more in his career.

As Tiger proved for so long, there is no “half switch”, there is only one full-on, flat-out switch for any event you are teeing up in. Otherwise, what’s the point of being there?

Adam basically admitted there are events he will play where he doesn’t appear too fussed about winning. He indicated there are many tournaments on the PGA Tour that he doesn’t take as seriously as the primo ones.

But they do matter to so many players. Ask the likes of Brian Gay, Stewart Cink, Robert Streb and Sergio Garcia if their wins towards the end of last year were important or not.

Ask Viktor Hovland about his win at the Mayakoba Classic. Did he just happen to win that by putting in less effort and concentration than he did at the Masters?

The answers for all of the above will be an emphatic “no”.

I do see a point Adam was trying to make. There are so many tournaments in a PGA Tour season, and there’s more than enough room to shake up the schedule and include a mixed event or something else innovative and entertaining.

But, within what he was saying, I think we can deduce that there are events where Adam Scott won’t arrive with the “chest out, shoulders back” intensity that he would have on the first tee at a major or a WGC.

Adam is a great guy and a brilliant player, one of the best swings in the game, a sponsor’s dream with his film-star looks and unbelievable natural talent. He’s won 14 times on the PGA Tour, 11 on the European Tour. He’s won the Masters, and The Players, and a couple of WGCs. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a wonderful career

but despite those numbers, he’s almost-certainly under-achieved in the game, he’s that good. He’s said that to get to 20 wins and more majors at the age of forty, now it’s all about speed. So it’s full throttle every week and see what he can rack up.

PGA Tour Golf

January 11, 2021, 7:00pm

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