Justin Thomas won the Honda Classic on Sunday at PGA National. It was the eighth win of his already-stellar career. But before it came to fruition, Thomas was involved in a dust-up on the 16th tee box. After hitting his drive on the par-4 16th, Thomas wheeled around and asked for a fan to be ejected. The exchanges was audible on the broadcast, and the fan apparently had been yelping for Thomas' ball to get in the sand trap.
The situation elicited some, uh, interesting responses from fans, but it wasn't the first time during the day that he'd said something, according to Thomas.
"We were walking up on the tee and this guy, I don't know who he was talking to, but sounds like it was me. He said something like, 'I hope you hit it in the water, hit it in the water,' something like that," said Thomas. "I just kind of like looked back there. Didn't say anything.
"I feel like there's no place for that, and I hit it and my ball is in the air and ... it's in the middle of the fairway and he's yelling for it to get in the bunker. I was like, 'OK, I've had enough.' So I just turned around and asked who it was, and he didn't want to say anything, now that I had actually acknowledged him. So he got to leave a couple holes early."
After hitting his tee shot on 16, Justin Thomas signaled for a fan to be ejected from the gallery for a “get in the bunker” cheer.— Will Gray (@WillGrayGC) February 25, 2018
“Enjoy your day, buddy. You’re done.”
"I don't want to kick someone out just to kick them out," he added. "It's just it's so inappropriate. We're out here trying to win a golf tournament. I would have done it if he said it to Luke, ... Just because you're standing behind the ropes doesn't mean that you can ... I don't care how much I dislike somebody, I'm never going to wish that kind of stuff upon them. I felt it was inappropriate, so he had to go home."
And on Thomas marched to a playoff win. His second of the season and seventh in his last 31 events.
Update: Thomas responded to more criticism with a string of tweets.
Getting a lot of comments on the fan incident yesterday.. sorry to any and all offended by it. There was more said as we walked to the tee wishing bad things on the course for myself or Luke. Then the get in the bunker comment over and over again I felt...— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) February 26, 2018
...it was very understandable to have him escorted out. I never want to lose fans, or have people root against me. I just didn’t see a place for that particular person to be yelling at us things that weren’t necessary over and over again. I over reacted...— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) February 26, 2018
..and should not have had him kicked out. I feel bad for it, but was more doing so because again I felt the stuff he was saying was completely unnecessary. I love all my fans and to hear that I’ve lost quite a few bc of that, isn’t fun. So I’m sorry to all!— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) February 26, 2018