Thomas addresses ending of Ralph Lauren partnership: 'Embarrassing' use of slur is 'not me'

By Peter Hanson 21 January 2021 7
Thomas addresses ending of Ralph Lauren partnership: 'Embarrassing' use of slur is 'not me'

Justin Thomas insists his "embarrassing" and "humiliating" use of a homophobic slur is "not me" and reflected on Ralph Lauren's decision to stop working with him as a result of the incident.

World number three Thomas was heard making the offensive comment by a television microphone when playing at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii earlier this month.

Afterwards, Thomas apologised for his "inexcusable" use of the slur and he again addressed the issue when previewing the Abu Dhabi Championship on the European Tour this weekend. 

"It's humiliating. It's embarrassing. It's not me. It's not a word that I use, but for some reason, it was in there," Thomas said. 

"And that's what I'm trying to figure out as to why it was in there, and just like I said, it's going to be a part of this process and training program or whatever I need to do, not only to prove to myself but prove to my sponsors and prove to those people that don't know who I am that that is indeed not the person I am."

Thomas will be playing without shirt branding in Abu Dhabi after Ralph Lauren opted to end its partnership with the 27-year-old.

Asked about the company's decision, Thomas replied: "I think disappointed is the wrong word. 

"Obviously I was upset. But at the end of the day, they have that right. They had to make the decision that they had to make. I spoke with them along with all my sponsors. 

"Although I apologised, it's like it was then; it's an opportunity for me to grow and I felt like it was something we could have done together and gone through that process. 

"They just felt like they needed to move on. That's exactly what I'm doing, as well. It was a great run that we had and a great partnership, but you know, things will work out on the best."

Thomas confirmed conversations have been held with his other sponsors, adding: "I've had great communication with all of them. 

"It was obviously not calls or e-mails I was hoping or planning to make but I needed to because I have some great long-lasting partnerships with all my sponsors. They know that's not the person that I am.

"They know that's not how I act and although they are far from brushing it to the side just like I am, they understand that this is an opportunity for me to educate myself, grow, become a better person, and just like they hope, I know that I'll become a better man and a better person because of it, and they are going to kind of help me along that process."

Thomas earned the backing of Rory McIlroy, who is confident his on-course rival will learn from his error in judgement.

"I think he's already responded really, really well," the four-time major winner said. 

"I think he realised he made a big mistake as soon as it was brought to him and he completely owned up to it. He said he messed up; he's going to try to be better. 

"And you know, Justin is true to his word. He will be. If anything, it will probably just make him a better person than he already is, which is hard because he's already a great guy."

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Peter Hanson

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