You’ve heard it on golf broadcasts for years now. Exclamations of “mashed potato” and “get in the hole” shouted at pro golfers, sometimes before they’ve even made contact. Well, Rory McIlroy has heard that and more, and now he’s speaking out about unruly fan behavior on the PGA Tour.
Speaking in a press conference on Tuesday prior to the start of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, McIlroy was asked about how fan behavior on Tour compares to other major sports like basketball. His answer did not disappoint.
His first concern is for young fans being exposed to profanity hurled by rowdy adults.
“One of the wonderful things about PGA Tour events… is a lot of kids come out to watch,” McIlroy said. “If you’ve got guys that are shouting obscenities and swear words and stuff and there’s kids around, I think that isn’t cool.”
But McIlroy saved most of his words to detail the negative effect unruly fan behavior has on the competitors.
He complained about when spectators “start to shout the players’ private life” as McIlroy has witnessed first hand, especially at the Ryder Cup, which Rory says “crosses the line.”
He also takes exception with fans “deliberately rooting against someone or trying to get in their head.”
A major problem with all of this, according to McIlroy, is that usually only the top players have to deal with these kinds of disturbances.
“It’s not fair when only a handful of guys are subjected to that in the field and the other guys can just go about their business,” McIlroy said.
As for how to deal with such disruptive fan behavior, McIlroy agrees that there is a lot of gray area, and each situation should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. But if the behavior rises to the levels he detailed, the four-time major champion says “you might want to try to either get security to tell the guys to settle down or to remove them.”
McIlroy is coming off a huge victory at the 2019 Players Championship that saw him rise to No. 4 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He tees off for his first match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at 2:22 p.m. ET on Wednesday.