Justin Thomas apologizes for uttering anti-gay slur at Tournament of Champions

KAPALUA, Hawaii -- Justin Thomas apologized Saturday afternoon for uttering an anti-gay slur under his breath when he missed a 5-foot par putt on the fourth hole of the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

"It's inexcusable," Thomas said. "First off, I just apologize. I'm an adult. I'm a grown man; there's absolutely no reason for me to say anything like that. It's terrible. I'm extremely embarrassed. It's not who I am; it's not the kind of person that I am or anything that I do.

"Unfortunately, I did it, and I have to own up to it, and I'm very apologetic."

Thomas said he wasn't aware that it had been picked up and was a topic on social media until after his round.

Thomas finished with a 5-under 68, and he is four shots back of the lead.

The PGA Tour said in a statement, "As he expressed after his round, we agree that Justin's comment was unacceptable."

He is likely to be fined for conduct unbecoming a professional, though the PGA Tour does not disclose conduct punishment.

A year ago, Scott Piercy lost two endorsement deals for sharing an anti-gay meme poking fun at Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, who is gay, when Buttigieg announced he was suspending his campaign. Piercy also referenced the far-right conspiracy theory QAnon.

Patrick Reed also had to apologize in Shanghai in 2014 when he cursed in conjunction with an anti-gay slur after three-putting.

Thomas, who reached No. 1 in the world for one week last year, is the defending champion at Kapalua.

"It's bad. There's no other way to put it," Thomas said. "I need to do better; I need to be better. It's definitely a learning experience. I just ... I deeply apologize to everybody and anybody who I offended, and I'll be better because of it."