Justin Thomas weighs in on PGA Tour-LIV Golf merger with ‘consequences’ demand

Though he thinks the game needs to be unified once more, two-time PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas disagrees with Rory McIlroy on one crucial aspect of the LIV Golf merger talks.

Though he thinks a deal between the rival tours would be beneficial to the game, Justin Thomas feels LIV Golf players should face “consequences” if they ever return to the PGA Tour.

The two-time PGA Championship winner acknowledges that he is still “angry” over the 2022 LIV Golf breakaway, which saw players like Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, and Phil Mickelson accept massive contract offers from the Saudi Arabia-backed league.

As a result, professional golf has descended into a civil war that has negatively impacted both sponsors and fans, with the latter group potentially more concerning for the PGA Tour than the former. This year’s TV viewership has decreased as people become disenchanted with politics taking center stage. Major sponsor Royal Bank of Canada urged the PGA Tour to find a solution quickly last week.

The PGA Tour, DP World Tour, and the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced eleven months ago that they had reached a framework agreement to merge. This would allow the world’s best players to compete against each other more frequently and mend the divisions in the sport. Since then, though, there hasn’t been much tangible progress—many deadlines have been missed while negotiations continue.

Thomas told The Times that while a resolution is required, he would not welcome LIV players back with open arms. Thomas has stated his allegiance to the tour and has not considered offers from LIV.

According to him, golf isn’t always a popular enough sport to support competitive settings like these. People might eventually grow bored and lose interest in watching it if it goes on for too long. Furthermore, we all want to compete against the greatest players on the planet.

“They’ve done this, that’s what it is, and that’s still true,” was how many of the initial feelings that I and others felt. If you will, I still believe that LIV players who wish to return to the PGA Tour should face some sort of repercussions.

Ultimately though, I do believe that having everyone play together is better for the game of golf. I have no idea how or when that’s going to be finished. Those aren’t my decisions to make.

Rory McIlroy, the tour’s de facto spokesperson for the majority of the LIV Golf story, previously held a similar opinion to Thomas’. But in recent times, the Northern Irishman’s position has softened, and he now wants a merger agreement to be finalized as soon as feasible.

In January, McIlroy stated, “Let them come back if people who are still eligible for this tour want to come back and play or you want to try and do something.” I find it difficult to punish people. I disagree that there ought to be a penalty.

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