Posted on: August 21, 2023, 09:04h.
Last updated on: August 21, 2023, 09:04h.
A PGA Tour player reveals experiencing heckling from intoxicated bettors during the BMW Championship’s final round at Olympia Fields Country Club in Chicago.
Max Homa, currently ranked seventh in the Official World Golf Ranking, had difficulties with his putting during the FedExCup Playoffs’ second leg, the BMW Championship. Homa missed a tap-in on the seventh hole and a five-footer at the 12th hole.
In an interview after his round, Homa revealed that some intoxicated fans participated in friendly betting, but things turned ugly when one fan cheered after Homa’s playing partner, Chris Kirk, missed a birdie putt on the 17th green.
According to Homa, he was subsequently subjected to heckling during his own putt. The fan yelled in the middle of his five-foot birdie attempt, but Homa managed to sink the putt.
Homa stated, “There was a drunk — I hope, for his case, or else he’s just the biggest loser there is — cheering and yelling at Chris for missing his putt short. And he kept yelling. One of them had $3 for me to miss mine. I got to the back of my backstroke and he yelled, ‘Pull it!’ pretty loud.”
Homa responded by shouting back at the fan, with his caddie, Joe Greiner, also engaging in a verbal exchange.
With the legalization of sports betting across the US, concerns have risen regarding in-game betting and the potential increase in heckling towards players in an attempt to disrupt their performance.
Homa admitted, “It’s just always something that’s on your mind. It’s on us to stay focused … but it’s annoying when it happens.”
Despite these incidents, Homa acknowledged that the majority of fans are supportive and fantastic. However, a few unruly individuals can make an already challenging Sunday even more difficult.
Homa expressed his frustration with the intentional heckling, saying, “It just sucks when it’s intentional. His friend specifically said it was for $3. Not that money matters, but that’s a frustrating number.”
Despite his struggles with putting, Homa finished in a tie for fifth place at the BMW Championship, earning a prize of $790,000. This result advances him to the $18 million Tour Championship, where even the last-place finisher is guaranteed at least $500,000.
Rory McIlroy, the world’s second-ranked golfer and a prominent figure in the PGA Tour, has long expressed concerns about the consequences of legal sports betting in the US.
In 2019, after the US Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on sports gambling, McIlroy predicted that the expansion of betting would lead to an increase in heckling.
McIlroy stated, “It is part of sport that people are going to root against you, people who don’t want you to win for whatever reason. I think that’s going to be one of the big things about golf and legalizing sports betting in this country.”