By Phil Casey, PA Golf Correspondent
Justin Thomas admits winning the Genesis Scottish Open would be made sweeter if it came at the expense of one of the LIV Golf rebels.
DP World Tour players who contested the first LIV Golf event at Centurion Club last month were fined £100,000 (€116,000) and banned from the Scottish Open, but successfully appealed against the sanctions on Monday.
Ian Poulter, Justin Harding, Adrian Otaegui and Branden Grace were then added to the field at Renaissance Club, with Otaegui and Harding in the first group out on Thursday and Poulter and Grace in the same position on Friday.
— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) July 6, 2022
Asked about the possibility of playing with one of the quartet later in the week, US PGA champion Thomas said: “If I know all four of them, then it will be fine. It will be easy.
“But even if I don’t, I don’t necessarily think we’re going to be having any like gamesmanship or needling each other out there.
“At the end of the day, they are here for the same reason we are and that’s just trying to play well and give yourself an opportunity to win the Scottish Open.
“If it so happens that it comes to that point and you have an opportunity to beat one of them to win the tournament, it might be a little better, but I’m sure they would say the same thing.”
Thomas and Rory McIlroy have emerged as the most prominent supporters of the PGA Tour in its battle against the Saudi-backed rival circuit, but the two-time major winner is keen to concentrate on his game ahead of next week’s 150th Open Championship at St Andrews.
“I’ll be the first to say I’ve gotten wrapped up emotionally from time to time, and I’m allowed to do that. I’m passionate about it and I feel a certain way,” Thomas said.
“But at the end of the day, myself and others, first and foremost, need to focus on playing good golf because that’s the number one priority.
“But if we can continue to focus on improving our product, getting our product as good as possible, then at the end of the day we have nothing to worry about.
“You never know what’s going to happen in terms of other entities or other things being thrown out there but I think we’re all very obviously pleased with where we are at and we are just continuing to make strides and progress and changes that are going to benefit everybody.”