The four-time Major winner says Thomas is "as good a guy as they come" after being asked about his homophobic slur
McIlroy Supports Thomas: “He Made A Mistake And He Owned Up To It”
Thomas subsequently had his sponsorship with Ralph Lauren discontinued.
The World No.3 immediately apologised for using the slur and is now without a clothing company.
“I think he’s already responded really well,” Thomas’ good friend McIlroy said ahead of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
“I think he realised he made a big mistake as soon as it was brought to him in Hawaii and he completely owned up to it,” the four-time Major winner continued.
“He said he messed up, he’s going to try to be better, and Justin is true to his word. He will be.
“I’ve got to know Justin really well and he is as good a guy as they come. He has a lot of integrity, a lot of character.
“Obviously, it doesn’t make what he said any better, but I think in this day in age it is hard because it seems you are not allowed to make a mistake any more.
“Any mistake gets jumped on.
“He made a mistake and he owned up to it. And he will be better because of it.
“He will maybe not be as ignorant to things that sort of, I am trying to think of the right word here, offend people, I guess.
“What he said was offensive to a large portion of the population. He will be better for it, he will learn, he will move on.
“He will be just as good a golfer as he has always been and, if anything it will probably make him a better person than he already is, which is hard because he is already a great guy.”
McIlroy and Thomas headline a strong field in Abu Dhabi as the 2021 European Tour season begins.