‘It’s their OWN fault!’: Justin Thomas takes a swipe at LIV Golf defectors


Justin Thomas has no sympathy for players who defected to play for LIV Golf and said they only have themselves to blame that they are unable to earn ranking points from the breakaway series.  

On Tuesday, all 48 LIV Golf players co-signed a letter to the chairman of the Official World Golf Ranking, Peter Dawson, pleading for golf’s ranking body to recognise the breakaway series, claiming their existing system is ‘undermined’ and ‘invalid’ without them. 

‘Every week that passes without the inclusion of LIV athletes undermines the historical value of OWGR,’ the letter read. 

‘We call on you to render a positive decision quickly – for the benefit of the integrity of the rankings, the game and all of us who love the sport.’

Thomas, who addressed the letter in front of the media before the 2022 Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow, was typically dismissive of the game’s breakaway stars, including Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Sergio Garcia.

Thomas, a two-time major champion, said: ‘I mean, I don’t understand. 

‘It’s very obvious and written right there in front of them. They just naturally want what’s best for them, just like the decision they made to go there.

Justin Thomas has no sympathy for LIV golfers wanting world ranking points

Justin Thomas has no sympathy for LIV golfers wanting world ranking points

All 48 LIV Golf players (pictured L-R Dustin Johnson, Talor Gooch, Patrick Reed and Pat Perez) have penned a joint letter to OWGR chief Peter Dawson urging him to grant the series points

All 48 LIV Golf players (pictured L-R Dustin Johnson, Talor Gooch, Patrick Reed and Pat Perez) have penned a joint letter to OWGR chief Peter Dawson urging him to grant the series points

The letter was signed by all players who competed at the latest event and Bubba Watson

The letter was signed by all players who competed at the latest event and Bubba Watson

‘I totally understand. Hey, if I was doing the same situation, I would want it, but that doesn’t necessarily make it right. 

‘The governing bodies have created a system for a reason, and that’s to try to create the best system possible to determine the best players in the world.’

Thomas is very opinionated when it comes to the Saudi-backed breakaway series. 

He previously called on ‘at least one’ rebel to come clean and admit they switched away from the PGA Tour for money.

On the issue of ranking points, he added: ‘Now, yeah, is it going to be skewed because some of the top players aren’t going to be in there? Yes. But that’s their own fault for making the decision they made, and they knew very, very well going into it there’s a good chance they won’t have world ranking points, and they took that risk.

‘In my opinion, that’s their own fault.’

Thomas is one of the players to have remained loyal to the PGA Tour this year

Thomas is one of the players to have remained loyal to the PGA Tour this year

Fellow American golfer Billy Horschel, 35, was equally dismissive about the fight being carried to the governing body by Mickelson and Co.

‘I’ve been consistent about this for four or five months now,’ Horschel said. ‘All of those guys knew, when they left the PGA Tour, there was a good chance they may not get world ranking points anymore.

‘Unfortunately, they were told that they were going to get world ranking points by their colleagues.

‘That’s what they feel, based off of Greg Norman and the people over there, feel like they should get world ranking points right away. That’s not going to happen.’

The defectors’ latest push for legitimacy comes at a time when they are falling down the standings, having cashed in with the Saudi-backed series, whose events are not currently eligible for ranking points. 

An application to that end was submitted in July, with LIV golfers fearful they might not qualify for future majors if their push is unsuccessful. 

The letter, whose co-signatories included Open champion Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson, Mickelson, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, went on to question the neutrality of the OWGR’s eight-person board, citing that half are connected to the PGA Tour, with whom LIV have been locked in an ugly power struggle.

Greg Norman (left) questioned how the OWGR could not award points to LIV golfers

Greg Norman (left) questioned how the OWGR could not award points to LIV golfers

It read: ‘Some 23 tours are integrated into the OWGR universe, and LIV has earned its place among them. Four LIV golfers have held the number-one position on the OWGR. LIV’s roster includes 21 of the last 51 winners of the four majors. The level of competition at the average LIV event is at least equal to that at the average PGA Tour event. We know because we’ve played in both.

‘Every week that passes without the inclusion of LIV athletes undermines the historical value of OWGR.’

The letter added: ‘The case for LIV’s inclusion is strong, but we have concerns that members of your governing board are conflicted and are keeping the OWGR from acting as it should. 

‘Four of the eight members have connections to the PGA Tour, which unfortunately views LIV Golf as an antagonist. Other members of the Board have made unfairly harsh remarks about LIV. The current overwrought environment makes your own judgment crucial.

‘We call on you to render a positive decision quickly – for the benefit of the integrity of the rankings, the game and all of us who love the sport.’

LIV GOLFER’S LETTER IN FULL 

Dear Mr. Dawson,

Your stewardship has ensured the Official World Golf Ranking status as one of the most respected institutions in sports. As the athletes who are ranked, we depend on OWGR not just to qualify for the most important events, including the Majors and Olympics, but to tell us where we stand among our peers. Trust in the OWGR has been widespread and well-deserved.

To maintain trust, we urge you – as one of the true statesmen of sports – to act appropriately to include, on a retroactive basis, the results of LIV Golf events in OWGR’s ranking calculations. An OWGR without LIV would be incomplete and inaccurate, the equivalent of leaving the Big 10 or the SEC out of the U.S. college football rankings, or leaving Belgium, Argentina, and England out of the FIFA rankings.

Some 23 tours are integrated into the OWGR universe, and LIV has earned its place among them. Four LIV golfers have held the number-one position on the OWGR, and one is currently number-two. LIV’s roster includes 21 of the last 51 winners of the four Majors. The level of competition at the average LIV event is at least equal to that at the average PGA Tour event. We know because we’ve played in both.

Every week that passes without the inclusion of LIV athletes undermines the historical value of OWGR. As time goes by, LIV golfers automatically decline in the rankings. For example, Dustin Johnson was ranked 13th on OWGR shortly before he announced he would play in LIV tournaments. He now ranks 22nd – despite finishing eighth, third, second, and first in the first four LIV events. Over Labor Day weekend in Boston, he defeated 15 golfers who had finished either first or second in the four Majors, including the Champion Golfer of the Year for 2022. For the rankings to be accurate, DJ deserves to move up, not down.

The case for LIV’s inclusion is strong, but we have concerns that members of your Governing Board are conflicted and are keeping the OWGR from acting as it should. Four of the eight members have connections to the PGA Tour, which unfortunately views LIV Golf as an antagonist. Other members of the Board have made unfairly harsh remarks about LIV, with one of them calling the organization “not credible.”

The current overwrought environment makes your own judgment crucial. In your athletic, business and golf management career you have won a stellar reputation for impartiality and integrity. Your work at the R&A and the OWGR shows you know how to combine tradition and innovation.

The OWGR’s mission, as stated on your website, “is to administer and publish, on a weekly basis, a transparent, credible, and accurate Ranking based on the relative performances of players.”

How can such a system possibly exclude players competing at such high levels against some of the strongest fields of the year for large purses, at such high-profile events?

We understand that LIV Golf formally applied for admission to the OWGR in mid-July. We hope the story we read today about the decision being slow walked so LIV golfers will slide down and to harm LIV is not accurate. We call on you to render a positive decision quickly – for the benefit of the integrity of the rankings, the game and all of us who love the sport.

After all, the fans deserve rankings that are inclusive and accurate. Failure to include 48 of the world’s best golfers would mean the fans are being denied what they deserve.

 



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