Justin Thomas explains why he joined Tiger Woods in snubbing Saudi LIV league

‘He has his opinion, I have mine’ – Tiger Woods on Phil Mickelson controversy

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Two-time major champion Justin Thomas has said he’s “disappointed” some of golf’s elite are heading for the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series. However, the 29-year-old is confident the PGA Tour remains “the best place to play in the world” as he explained why he joined Tiger Woods in snubbing the rebel league.

Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson are among the biggest names who will line up for the inaugural LIV event at the Centurion Club in Hertfordshire on Thursday. It’s reported ‘Lefty’ will be paid around $200million (£160m) to join the breakaway competition, while ‘DJ’ is believed to be receiving closer to £100m.

Woods was also propositioned to turn his back on the PGA, but Greg Norman—chief executive of LIV Golf Investments—said the 15-time major winner spurned an offer in the “high nine digits.” And Thomas—a close friends of Woods’—said that while he respected his peers’ right to choose, he’s confident he’s landing on the superior side of the debate.

“I think a lot of us are, I don’t know if annoyed or tired is the right way, it’s just one of those things,” Thomas told reporters ahead of this weekend’s Canadian Open. “I’ve thought a lot about it, and people are entitled to choose as they wish.

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“I don’t dislike DJ [Dustin Johnson] 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. I think the day and age that we live in now, it’s just so negative that you see it in everything… sport, politics, whatever it is, it’s like if you disagree with someone and you just feel entitled to hate them, talk bad about them and just bash their decision when everyone is entitled to their opinion. It doesn’t make you a bad person.”

The PGA has been explicit that any players who participate in the LIV Golf Invitational Series will be subject to sanctions. It’s also uncertain as to whether those setting sail for the rival league will be permitted to compete in future major tournaments.

Thomas continued: “Now, I’m disappointed and I wish that he [Johnson] and others hadn’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, and if they want to stay, they can stay.

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“Selfishly, I think and I know that the PGA Tour is the best place to play in the world, and the decision is theirs. It is what it is. I just wish it wouldn’t be taking away from the great storylines that are going on on a Tour that’s been around for a very long time, and is in one the best places it’s ever been in. It’s just a bummer that these guys won’t be a part of it.”

Mickelson, 51, came under fire in February when he acknowledged Saudi Arabia’s poor human rights record before saying he was willing to overlook such factors in order to reform golf. Woods addressed those remarks in May when he said: “I believe in legacies. I believe in major championships. I believe in big events, comparisons to historical figures of the past.”

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