Justin Thomas said that it’s a “bummer” Dustin Johnson and others have left the PGA Tour to compete in the LIV Golf Invitational Series.
The newly minted PGA champion said Wednesday at the RBC Canadian Open that Johnson and the other defectors are “entitled to their own opinion” but that he was disappointed they chose to play elsewhere.
“It’s a bummer,” Thomas said. “I’ve thought a lot about it, and people are entitled to choose as they wish. I don’t dislike DJ now. I don’t think he’s a bad dude. I’m not going to treat him any differently. He’s entitled to choose as he wishes.”
Last week Johnson became the headliner for the upstart league, which begins Thursday outside London with a 48-man, 54-hole event featuring $25 million in prize money. Johnson, who was on the verge of earning lifetime PGA Tour membership this season, has resigned his membership to play in the eight-event series this year.
Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Talor Gooch are among the other notable names in the field. The Telegraph reported that Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed are set to join the rival tour “imminently,” with an official announcement scheduled later this week. The second LIV event is scheduled for June 30-July 2 in Portland, Oregon.
“I think that the day and age that we live in now, it’s just so negative that you see it in everything,” Thomas said. “Sports, politics, whatever it is – if you disagree with someone, you just feel that you’re entitled to hate them and talk bad about them and just bash their decision, when everybody’s entitled to their own opinion.
“It doesn’t make him a bad person. Now, I’m disappointed and I wish that he and others wouldn’t have done it, but that’s their decision. I’ve said it all along: Guys can do as they wish. If they want to go, they can go. If they want to stay, they can stay.”
For months Thomas has been vocal in his support of the PGA Tour, joining the likes of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Jordan Spieth in pledging their loyalty to the circuit.
“Selfishly, I think and I know that the PGA Tour is the best place to play in the world,” he said. “It’s just, the decision is theirs, and I wish that it wouldn’t be taking away from the great storylines and things that are going on on a Tour that’s been around for a very long time and is one of the best places it’s ever been. It’s just a bummer that those guys won’t be a part of it.”
World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler said he didn’t notice any of the players who were missing this week, save for Johnson, a former RBC ambassador, and pointed to the strength of the field with nine top-25 players.
“The best players in the world are out here playing golf and I’m looking forward to competing against them this week,” he said. “I don’t really know what’s going on over there, so I don’t really have much to say.”