PGA Tour chief Jay Monahan says that fans taunting Bryson DeChambeau by addressing him with the name of his arch-rival Brooks Koepka risk expulsion from future tournaments.
Speaking ahead of this week’s season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta, Monahan waded into the issue of fan behaviour which has emerged during the simmering feud between DeChambeau and Koepka.
At several recent events, DeChambeau has been heckled with cries of “Brooksie” from the galleries.
This past Sunday, after an agonising playoff defeat by Patrick Cantlay at the BMW Championship, DeChambeau swore in response to a fan who catcalled him with the words “Great job, Brooksie!”.
On Tuesday, Monahan said the tour would move to stamp out the heckling, describing it as disruptive behaviour bordering on harassment.
“By coming to a PGA Tour event, you’re expected to contribute to a welcoming and safe environment by refraining from and reporting any unsafe, disruptive or harassing behavior,” Monahan said in a statement.
“Comments or gestures that undermine the inclusive and welcoming nature of the game will not be tolerated, nor will any harassment of players, caddies, volunteers, officials, staff or other spectators.”
Monahan said “bad actors” targeting DeChambeau for abuse with cries of “Brooksie” could be subject to removal.
“The reason I say yes is, the barometer that we are all using is the word ‘respect,’ and to me, when you hear ‘Brooksie!’ yelled or you hear any expression yelled, the question is: Is that respectful or disrespectful?,” Monahan said.
“That has been going on for an extended period of time. To me, at this point, it’s disrespectful, and that’s the kind of behavior that we’re not going to tolerate going forward.”
DeChambeau and Koepka’s long-running feud has simmered since 2019, when Koepka made complaints about DeChambeau’s slow play.
In May this year, Koepka couldn’t hide his annoyance after DeChambeau photobombed him during an interview following the PGA Championship which went viral.
Rahm reveals abuse
News of the Tour’s crackdown was greeted with amusement by some other professionals on Tuesday.
“It’s official. Calling Bryson anything but his real name will get you thrown out of a golf tournament,” wrote South Korea-born world No 179 James Hahn on Twitter. “So if any one of you call me Kevin Na, Danny Lee or Sang Moon Bae, we’re gonna have some problems.”
England’s Lee Westwood added: “I’ve been called Lumpy, Oosty, Clarkey (amongst other names that I can’t mention) on and off for the last 25 years!!! And now you bring a rule in @PGATOUR.”
Shane Lowry, meanwhile, said he is often mistaken for English golfer Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston. “If everyone who calls me (Johnston) gets kicked out there will be no fans left,” Lowry quipped.
While Monahan said the issue of the DeChambeau taunts was part of a broader “reset” of fan behaviour, Spain’s world No 1 Jon Rahm revealed he had often received abuse from spectators.
“I’ve heard many things,” Rahm said. “Many things in Spanish that I don’t want to translate so somebody learns something bad.
“Bad things about my mom, bad things about my wife. Nobody said anything about my son yet, but I can imagine that’s coming …
“But I got to say, that is 1% of all the public out there. Everybody else is great. They create a great atmosphere. There’s just going to be the usual people that, whether they had a few too many drinks or they’re getting influenced by their friends or they’re just simply trying to be funny, they’re going to say some things that are just maybe not nicest to hear.”
© Agence France-Presse