Rory McIlroy has told the media that Justin Thomas will not be "as ignorant" in the future and will have "learned his lesson" after being dropped by one of his major sponsors, Ralph Lauren, for his homophobic slur at the Tournament of Champions on the PGA Tour two weeks ago.
McIlroy was speaking ahead of this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on the European Tour - his first event on the circuit in 14 months - where he will be playing alongside Thomas and also defending champion Lee Westwood.
"I think he's already responded really, really well," said McIlroy. "I think he realised he made a big mistake as soon as it was brought to him last week in Hawaii and he completely owned up to it.
"He said he messed up; he's going to try to be better. And you know, 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's got a lot of integrity, a lot of character.
"Obviously it doesn't make what he said any better, but I think in this day and age, it's hard because it seems like you're not allowed to make a mistake anymore. Any mistake gets jumped on.
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"Look, he made a mistake; he owned up to it, and he'll be better because of it. He'll maybe not be as ignorant to things that offend people, I guess. Obviously what he said was offensive to a large portion of the population, but again, he'll be better for it. He'll learn and he'll move on.
"And he'll be just as good a golfer as he's always been, and if anything, it will probably just make him a better person than he already is, which is hard because he's already a great guy."
Thomas was spotted wearing a Ralph Lauren golf polo shirt on Monday but then wore a shirt with no logos on during his Tuesday practice round.
"They have that right," Thomas said this week of being dropped by Ralph Lauren as one of his sponsors. "They had to make the decision that they had to make.
"I spoke with them along with all my sponsors. I apologised. It's an opportunity for me to grow and I felt like it was something we could have done together and gone through that process.
"They just felt like they needed to move on. That's exactly what I'm doing, as well."