Justin Thomas holds the opposite view to Rory McIlroy when it comes to the idea of LIV Golf players returning to the PGA Tour…
A lot of PGA Tour players would “have a hard time” watching LIV Golfers return to the circuit according to Justin Thomas.
The two-time PGA Championship winner believes the rebels who chose to join the Saudi-funded tour shouldn’t be able to come back “easily.”
The players who accepted lucrative offers from LIV Golf have been suspended with no prospect of further involvement in PGA Tour events.
But if the tour eventually strikes a deal with the Public Investment Fund, which bankrolls LIV, a condition could be that suspensions are lifted and all is forgiven. But Thomas isn’t a fan of this idea.
“I’m not necessarily super adamant one way or the other. I want the best product and the best players. I would say that there’s a handful of players on LIV that would make the tour a better place, but I’m definitely not in the agreement that they should just be able to come back that easily,” Thomas said at the WM Phoenix Open.
“I think there’s a lot of us that made sacrifices and were very – whether it’s true to our word or what we believe in or just didn’t make that decision, and I totally understand that things are changing and things are getting better.
“I would have a hard time with it, and I think a lot of guys would have a hard time with it, and I’m sure we don’t need to convince you why we would have a hard time with it.
“I think there’s a scenario somewhere, whatever it is, down the road of some version of some guys being back, but when and what that is, I have no idea.”
A picture of peace looked to be inked when the PGA Tour announced a framework agreement with the PIF last June, but a final product hasn’t materialised with the deadline of December 31 being surpassed.
LIV Golf events still aren’t eligible to offer world ranking points, Ryder Cup points or a route to majors – all variables which could be rectified depending on what agreement will be decided.
While the tour has been negotiating with the PIF, the circuit began talks and signed a deal worth $3 billion with Strategic Sports Group (SSG), a US-based sports investment consortium – a move that has called the tour’s progress with the Saudi group into question.
Justin Thomas: Rory McIlroy holds the opposite view, but Rickie Fowler agrees
The PGA Tour membership isn’t in agreement with the possibility of returning LIV players as Rory McIlroy said they should be able to come back without punishment from Greg Norman’s breakaway league.
Once an advocate of Thomas’ school of thought, the Northern Irishman’s words at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am constituted a significant U-turn based on his outspoken actions in favour of the PGA Tour since LIV’s inception in June 2022.
“If people still have eligibility on this tour and they want to come back and play or you want to try and do something, let them come back. I mean – I think it’s hard to punish people,” McIlroy said.
“I don’t think there should be a punishment for – obviously I’ve changed my tune on that because I see where golf is and I see that having a diminished PGA Tour and having a diminished LIV Tour or anything else is bad for both parties.”
Since resigning from the tour’s Policy Board, McIlroy has “accepted” LIV Golf’s existence, having previously said he hated the rival league, and he hopes an agreement between golf’s powers can bring everyone back together.
Last week, six-time tour winner Rickie Fowler said he doesn’t think a “direct road” should be made for LIV players, adding that “there has to be something for” the decisions the defectors made.
“That’s Rory’s viewpoint. I could name some guys with the same viewpoint, I could name some guys with a totally opposite viewpoint,” Fowler said.
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