Rory McIlroy shared his perspective on a pair of fellow golf superstars that have made headlines recently.
First, the Northern Irishman came to Justin Thomas' defense after a green-side microphone caught Thomas uttering a homophobic slur at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month.
"Look, he made a mistake; he owned up to it, and he'll be better because of it," McIlroy said, per Keith Jackson of Sky Sports. "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 publicly apologized after his round and went on to finish the tournament. The PGA Tour didn't officially discipline the 27-year-old, but clothing sponsor Ralph Lauren did cut their ties with the American because of his offensive language.
McIlroy, who is gearing up for the HSBC Championship in Abu Dhabi, also downplayed the significance of Tiger Woods' latest back surgery. The 15-time major champion announced the procedure on Monday, but McIlroy insists Woods should be back on the course in no time.
"I'm obviously pretty close with him. I think in his words, it was a small procedure. Obviously, any time you're being cut into, you try to avoid that as much as you can," McIlroy said.
"But he was back on his feet the next day so I don't think we can read too much into it. I think they were just trying to clean a couple of little bits up. Obviously, he won't be playing for the next couple of months, but he should be back for the Masters, if not before that."
McIlroy, Thomas, and Woods are currently the seventh, third, and 44th-ranked golfers in the world.