Pro golfer Justin Thomas says he is "upset" after being dropped by his sponsor, the Ralph Lauren Corp., for the use of a homophobic slur. The fashion company announced last week that it would be cutting ties with the 27-year-old pro because "his actions conflict with the inclusive culture" the company strives for, according to CNN. Speaking at the Tournament of Champions, Thomas said that he understood the decision but found it upsetting.
"Obviously I was upset," he said, per The Guardian. "But at the end of the day, they have that right. They had to make the decision. I spoke with them along with all my sponsors. Although I apologized, 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."
Thomas added that the incident presented the Ralph Lauren Corp. with an opportunity "to help me just like I hope to help them," but in the end, the global corporation "had to do what they had to do."
"Like I said, I wasn’t disappointed, because I put them in a terrible position. I just was more upset," he continued. "I had a great relationship with a lot of people there and we would have had the opportunity to do it together. I totally respect their decision and I’ve moved on from it."
Thomas was caught on a camera microphone muttering the homophobic remark after missing a seven-foot par putt on the fourth hole of the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. He apologized after the round but has faced backlash despite his remorse.
"I’m clearly beyond [not] proud of what I said. It’s humiliating. It’s embarrassing. It’s not me," he said. "It’s not a word that I use, but for some reason, it was in there. And that’s what I’m trying to figure out as to why it was in there and 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 explained that he had called and emailed his other sponsors, who understood that the ordeal was "an opportunity for me to educate myself, grow, become a better person."
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