| 11.7°C Belfast

Rory McIlroy backs ‘nice person’ Bryson DeChambeau over ‘Brooksie’ controversy ahead of Tour Championship

Close

Rory McIlroy has defended Bryson DeChambeau (blurred) after a run-in with a fan last weekend. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy has defended Bryson DeChambeau (blurred) after a run-in with a fan last weekend. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Getty Images

FORT WORTH, TEXAS - JUNE 14: Bryson DeChambeau of the United States and Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland bump fists after finishing on the 18th green during the final round of the Charles Schwab Challenge on June 14, 2020 at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

FORT WORTH, TEXAS - JUNE 14: Bryson DeChambeau of the United States and Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland bump fists after finishing on the 18th green during the final round of the Charles Schwab Challenge on June 14, 2020 at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Getty Images

/

Rory McIlroy has defended Bryson DeChambeau (blurred) after a run-in with a fan last weekend. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

He may be one of the world’s top ten golfers with eight PGA Tour victories, one major championship and career earnings of over $26m, but it’s not easy to be Bryson DeChambeau.

On the face of it, Rory McIlroy’s claim ahead of this week’s Tour Championship may seem at best amusing and at worse insulting to the millions of people across the globe who would do anything for a single per cent of the American’s salary.

But on a strictly human level, it’s perhaps a more conceivable thought.

DeChambeau was back in the headlines last week when he reportedly yelled back at a fan who goaded him on his way off the final green at the BMW Championship.

“Great job, Brooksie,” the supporter shouted, referencing DeChambeau’s public feud with Ryder Cup team-mate Brooks Koepka.

"You know what? Get the f**k out,” DeChambeau is reported to have replied.

There are some that would point to the 27-year-old’s lengthening list of controversies to back up a feeling that he brings on such behaviour himself.

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

There’s that fall-out with Koepka, failing to shout fore when hitting a ball toward spectators as well as telling the world his Cobra driver “sucks” and understandably annoying his own sponsor to name a few.

But for McIlroy, golf’s very defining principles mean he’s firmly on DeChambeau’s side.

“I certainly feel some sympathy for him because I don't think that you should be ostracised or criticised for being different,” McIlroy explained in typically thoughtful manner.

“I think we have all known from the start that Bryson is different and he is not going to conform to the way people want him to be. He is his own person. He thinks his own thoughts and everyone has a right to do that.

“There are certainly things that he has done in the past that have brought some of this stuff on himself. I'm not saying that he's completely blameless in this.

“But at the same time, I think he has been getting a pretty rough go of it of late and it's actually pretty sad to see because he, deep down, I think is a nice person and all he wants to do is try to be the best golfer he can be.

“I think he's trying to become better and he's trying to learn from his mistakes and I think everyone should give him a chance to try to do that.

“It just seems like every week something else happens and I would say it's pretty tough to be Bryson DeChambeau right now.”

DeChambeau’s alleged interaction with that fan last Sunday led to PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan confirming on Tuesday that such “disrespectful” behaviour could lead to supporters getting thrown out of events in future.

And it’s a stance McIlroy, again, would support, claiming he feels galleries in general are becoming less respectful to competitors.

“As golfers, there's a very thin rope that separates us from the fans, and then you hit a shot off line, and you have to go into the fans to hit it. So we get a little closer to them than some other sports,” he said.

“I think some of it crosses the line. I think certain other sports culture has fed into our game and fed into the fan base that's definitely affected it, and people will make the argument that it happens in every other sport.

“I would say that we're not any other sport and I think golf should hold itself to a higher standard. I mean, the players are certainly held to a higher standard than other sports, so why wouldn't our fan base be.

“That might sound a little stiff or snobby or whatever, but that's golf and we have traditions. You look at like a First Tee Program (non-profit organisation that teaches life lessons to children through golf).They're taught respect, sportsmanship, etiquette, how to treat others the right way, and that's everything that we try to do through golf.”

McIlroy will no doubt soon be feeling the rath of the American-based fans himself in a few weeks when he arrives at Whistling Straits as part of Europe’s Ryder Cup team.

The last time it was played in America, he gave some back to the supporters, screaming “I can’t hear you,” while cupping his ear after draining a putt amidst a raucous atmosphere during his singles match against Patrick Reed.

While there’s a line between good-natured banter and outright abuse, McIlroy explained how he copes with the heckling.

“Someone once told me awhile back, if you don't take anything personally, you'll live a very happy life, and I think I try to do that all the time,” he said.

“If I were to sit down and have a beer with this person, would they think the same thing, would they say the same thing? Of course they wouldn't.

“It's just a weird dynamic between fan and competitor and they're doing it to try to help their own team. I think the more you react to it, the more it gets at you, but the more you actually think about it and break it down, it just becomes less meaningful and you can just let it roll off.”

That’s all a worry for September 24-26, however. This week is about McIlroy’s attempts to win a third Tour Championship at East Lake GC, Atlanta.

He begins eight shots behind FedEx Cup leader Patrick Cantlay at two under par care of his 16th placed ranking.

It’s a controversial format that is heavily weighted on the end-of-season play-offs, as is the nature of, in particular, the American sporting system.

But while it puts him at, clearly, a distinct disadvantage to half the field, it’s not something McIlroy’s going to complain about.

“If I go out tomorrow and shoot six-under, which is the score I shot last year in the first round, get to eight-under par, and some of those top guys shoot even par or even one or two over, all of a sudden you're right in it,” McIlroy said.

“It's a golf course on which you can make up a lot of ground quickly so I certainly don't feel like I'm out of it. Eight shots around this golf course doesn't seem like that much, so I’m still pretty optimistic.

“The first year that it was played in this format I started five back, and I ended up winning the tournament by three.

“It's not an insurmountable advantage. It's the playoffs and I think everyone that's in the top-30 deserves to be here and then because of that everyone in the top-30 deserves to feel like they have a chance to win it all.”

McIlroy, who also confirmed he will not be playing at next week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, begins his bid for what would be an unlikely victory this week at 5.50pm BST alongside Dustin Johnson.

Leader Cantlay tees off at 7pm with Tony Finau, two shots behind, with DeChambeau starting one further back on seven under and world number one Jon Rahm at -6.

With Brooks Koepka eight groups ahead of his rival DeChambeau, fans will have no excuse for shouting the wrong name.


Related topics


Top Videos



Privacy