ATLANTA – PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan on Tuesday stressed the importance of showing respect as he addressed inappropriate comments at select TOUR events this summer.
Speaking before the start of the season-ending TOUR Championship at East Lake, Monahan said that with the ongoing pandemic and pent-up demand fans have in rare instances crossed the line. And he reminded that there will be consequences, as expressly stated in the fans’ code of conduct.
“The barometer that we are all using is the word ‘respect,’” he said, “and to me, when you hear ‘Brooksie’ yelled or you hear any expression yelled, the question is, is that respectful or disrespectful? That has been going on for an extended period of time. To me, at this point, it’s disrespectful, and that’s kind of behavior that we’re not going to tolerate going forward.”
Sudden-death playoffs have decided the last four tournaments, and with the tension high and every fan following one group, some of the comments from the gallery have gone too far.
Harris English, who played in the last group of the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational with Bryson DeChambeau, was one of a handful of players to voice concerns.
“It just sucks that that’s out there right now,” English said.
Asked on Tuesday about fan comments, world No. 1 Jon Rahm, who goes into the TOUR Championship as the third seed, expressed disbelief at some of what he has heard.
“I can’t in good conscience say what some people have said,” he said. “I don’t know what goes through somebody’s mind to say something like that. I don’t know. Some bad things.
“But I got to say,” he added, “that is 1 percent of all the public out there.”
Stewart Cink, a two-time winner this season who is making his first TOUR Championship start since 2009, said fans may feel emboldened by the anonymity afforded by large crowds.
“Those fans that yell probably wouldn’t be quick to say those same things in a one-on-one situation,” he said. “So it’s more about just getting the laugh out of your buddies and it comes at the expense, to a certain extent, of the player that it’s directed to.”
According to the fans’ code of conduct, as explicitly stated to ticketholders: “The PGA TOUR is committed to fostering an inclusive environment where individuals of all backgrounds are treated with respect for the benefit of the health, safety, and welfare of all.”
Expounding on that, Monahan said, “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.” The penalty for doing so will be expulsion and loss of credential or ticket.
“Now, I would ask our fans, again, the very best fans in the world, to take a moment and think about what it means to be a golf fan and to enjoy a PGA TOUR tournament,” he said. “We’re going to be leaders in this space. We’re going to show everyone how easy it is to enjoy yourself at an event while also respecting the athletes in the field of play and the fans around you, many of whom are families with young kids who have a chance to be lifetime fans of the game themselves. Quite honestly, we should expect nothing less from each other, whether we’re at a golf tournament or elsewhere in life.”