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The Slam: Golf world divided as Ralph Lauren cuts ties with JT

Justin Thomas’s contemptable reaction to a missed putt has cost him a multi-million dollar sponsorship deal. But, writes Alex Perry, the criticism is being aimed in the wrong direction

In last week’s Slam I wrote that, while I believed Justin Thomas’s apology for muttering a homophobic slur after a missed five-footer was genuine, it was a concern that the word was even on his radar when it came to his mad moment of self loathing.

We all know that on social media things can turn rather unpleasant and at a concerningly rapid pace. And the reaction was as predictable as it was wearisome.

To call someone out for doing something contemptible does not make you a “snowflake” or part of the “loony left” – to borrow a couple of the general accusations aimed in my direction this time last week. It just means you’re not a bad human being.

I wasn’t personally offended by what Thomas said. But that doesn’t mean I’m OK with him saying it. I’m sure we’ve all said things we’re not proud of down the years. Some of us grow, some of us don’t.

And, as is often the case in these situations, the athlete’s actions have repurcussions that have cost him dearly.

On Friday, Ralph Lauren, Thomas’s clothing sponsor since 2013, released a statement that said they were “disheartened” by use of “language entirely inconsistent with our values”.

It added: “While we acknowledge he has apologised and recognises the severity of his words, he is a paid ambassador of our brand and his actions conflict with the inclusive culture we strive to uphold.”

The statement concluded that they hope Thomas “does the hard and necessary work in order to partner with us again”.

“Cancel culture” is a front-runner for 2021’s most tiresome buzzword and it was out in force over the weekend against a company that stumps up a lot of cash to pay an athlete who is expected to represent them in ways they see fit.

Ralph Lauren were, whether you agree with the way they did it or not, perfectly entitled to end their contract with Thomas.

In an ideal world, the company and the athlete could have worked together and used the incident as a learning process. But Thomas is 27 now and really shouldn’t need someone to hold his hand.

Thomas has got what he deserved for his flash of ignorance – a wounded reputation and a multi-million dollar punch in the bank account.

It’s not “cancel culture”. It’s simply consequences of your own behaviour.

Kisner’s perfect response

In lighter news, there are a handful of players you can always rely on for an entertaining press conference, and Kevin Kisner is right up there.

When asked ahead of the Sony Open in Hawaii if he has the game to win anywhere, he responded: “Probably not. I’m not going to win at Bethpage Black or Torrey Pines.”

So why bother showing up?

“Because they give away a lot of money for 20th,” he quipped.

Masters staying put in 2021

Meanwhile, there had been whispers in golf circles recently that, due to the ongoing pandemic, the Masters was going to once again be pushed back to November.

Those rumours were put to bed this week when Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley revealed that “efforts are being made to include a limited number of patrons, provided it can be done safely” for when the first major of 2021 gets underway on April 8.

But perhaps even bigger news for the purists is that the Par-3 Tournament and the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals are both scheduled to return.

The Augusta National Women’s Amateur, which first took place in 2019 but was cancelled last year, will also take place in the weeks prior.

Right, that’s enough from me. You can follow me on Twitter, if that’s your kind of thing. And don’t forget to…

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Source: National Club Golf