Justin Thomas will be retained by sponsor, Citi, after he agreed to donate “a meaningful portion” of his earnings to LGBTQ charities.
Thomas’ clothing deal with the Ralph Lauren Corporation was terminated last week in the wake of his homophobic slur during the third round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii earlier this month.
Citi’s chief marketing officer, Carla Hasson, revealed that the investment bank did consider “terminating our relationship” with Thomas who has expressed his remorse over the “humiliating and embarrassing” incident, vowing to learn from his mistake and “become better” in the future.
Hassan confirmed that the world No 3 will continued to be sponsored by the New York company, and he will work with them to increase awareness and support for LGBTQ causes.
In a company-approved blog entitled “When an apology isn’t enough”, Hassan wrote: “We considered terminating our relationship with him. It would send a clear and important message, but we decided to use this moment to work with Justin to try to create change.
“We want to more than make it clear that it is wrong to use this word. Instead, we hope our efforts can lead more people to make an affirmative choice not to use this word or others like it – and speak up when others do – because they understand the impact it can have, including on a friend, colleague or teammates who may be struggling with the decision to disclose their sexual orientation.
“If at any point we feel Justin is not sincere in working toward this goal, we will end our relationship with him.”
Thomas apologised after both the third and final rounds at Kapalua and underwent a stern media examination ahead of last week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, where he double-bogeyed his final hole on Friday and missed the halfway cut by one shot.
“It’s humiliating, it’s embarrassing, and it’s not me,” said Thomas, who had earlier been backed by close friend Rory McIlroy to learn from the incident. “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.”
Ralph Lauren parted company with the American last week, describing his actions as “entirely inconsistent with our values” but leaving the door open to possibly renewing their deal with Thomas, providing he “does the hard and necessary work” to promote inclusion.
“Obviously I was upset,” said Thomas. “But at the end of the day, they have that right. They had to make the decision that they had to make. I spoke with them along with all of my sponsors. Although I apologised, it’s like 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.”
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