KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — Justin Thomas apologized Saturday afternoon for uttering a homophobic slur under his breath when he missed a 5-foot par putt on the fourth hole of the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
“It’s inexcusable,” Thomas said. “First off, I just apologize. 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.”
Thomas said he was not aware that it had been picked up and was a topic on social media until after his round. He finished with a 5-under 68 and is four shots back of the lead.
The PGA Tour said in a statement, “As he expressed after his round, we agree that Justin’s comment was unacceptable.” He is likely to be fined for conduct unbecoming a professional, though the PGA Tour does not disclose conduct punishment.
A year ago, Scott Piercy lost two endorsement deals for sharing a homophobic meme poking fun at Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, who is gay, when he announced he was suspending his campaign. Piercy also referenced the far-right conspiracy theory QAnon.
Patrick Reed also had to apologize in Shanghai in 2014 when he cursed in conjunction with a homophobic slur after three-putting.
Thomas, who reached No. 1 in the world for one week last year, is the defending champion at Kapalua.
“It’s bad. There’s no other way to put it,” Thomas said. “I need to do better, I need to be better. It’s definitely a learning experience. I just … I deeply apologize to everybody and anybody who I offended and I’ll be better because of it.”