Justin Thomas has had say on returning LIV Golf players to the PGA Tour, after Rory McIlroy claimed he would welcome the rebel stars back without punishment. McIlroy has been one of LIV’s biggest critics since its formation in 2022, but has softened his stance in recent months.
His latest u-turn came at Pebble Beach last week, where he claimed the likes of Jon Rahm, Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka should be allowed to make a return to the Tour, despite their LIV loyalties. “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,” he said at Pebble Beach last week.
“I mean I think it’s hard to punish people. 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.”
One of McIlroy’s fellow PGA Tour stars in Thomas however, is not on the same page, as he addressed the proposal ahead of this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.”I would say that there’s a handful of players on LIV that would make the tour a better place,” he claimed.
“But I’m definitely not in the agreement that they should just be able to come back that easily. 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.
“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.”
Thomas is not alone in his punishment stance, with Rickie Fowler sharing a similar opinion on Mickelson and co making a comeback without punishment. Fowler said at Pebble Beach in the wake of McIlroy’s comments:”Yeah, as far as decisions to go elsewhere and just welcome back, I don’t think it’s a direct road.
“I mean, they made decisions and there has to be something for it. Whether how small or big, that’s not up to me.” It is expected that as part of a framework agreement between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, LIV players will be offered a path back to their former circuit.
After beginning talks in June, the proposed merger between the two was dealt a blow at the end of 2023, after they missed their December 31 deadline to sign off a deal. Having entered the New Year though, the two sides remain in negotiations, with an agreement set to be finalised before April’s Masters.
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