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Justin Thomas has backed Rickie Fowler and doubled down on taking issue with LIV Golf stars making a return to the PGA Tour.

It all started with Rory McIlroy’s shock U-turn, when the Northern Irishman claimed LIV golfers should face no punishment for coming back.

“If people still have eligibility on this tour and they want to come back and play or you want to try and do something, let them come back,” he said.

“I think it’s hard to punish people. I don’t think there should be a punishment.”

Fowler, 35, then hit back, insisting he isn’t in the ‘same spot’ as McIlroy, who has been on a “rollercoaster ride” that resulted in a change of tune.

“As far as decisions to go elsewhere and just welcome back, I don’t think it’s a direct road,” said Fowler, a six-time PGA Tour winner.

“I mean, they made decisions and there has to be something for it. Whether how small or big, that’s not up to me.”

The latest twist in the debate now stems from Thomas, who has admitted to sharing the same feeling as his American colleague, after a lot of pros ‘made sacrifices’.

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“I want the best product and the best players,” he said, ahead of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

“There’s a handful of players on LIV that would make the TOUR a better place, but I’m definitely not in the agreement that they should just be able to come back that easily.

“I would have a hard time with it, and I think a lot of guys would have a hard time with it, and I’m sure we don’t need to convince you why we would have a hard time with it.

“I think there’s a scenario somewhere, whatever it is, down the road of some kind of version of some guys being back, but when and what that is, I have no idea.”

It comes after the PGA Tour received a substantial boost in the form of a $3 billion dollar investment from the Strategic Sports Group (SSG) last week.

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The cash injection has asked further questions of the tour’s Strategic Alliance with the DP World Tour and LIV Golf.

Thomas added: “You don’t invest that much money for fun just because you love the game of golf.

“Clearly this is something that they view as an investment, and to be able to have it grow, which is exciting as a player but also as a fan of golf because for that to continue to grow and get better, then our product is going to get better, which is going to be more fan friendly to watch.”

Meanwhile, former U.S. Open champ and LIV golfer Bryson DeChambeau has said bringing players back together “needs to happen”.

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John Turnbull A graduate of the University of Stirling, John joined the bunkered team in 2023 as a Content Producer, with a responsibility for covering all breaking news, tour news, grassroots content and much more besides. A keen golfer, he plays the majority of his golf at Falkirk Golf Club. Top of his 'bucket list' is a round of Pebble Beach... ideally in the company of Gareth Bale.

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