‘This guy could throw anything’: Why pro frighteningly told caddie to watch fan
Robert MacIntyre was playing well, but he was concerned.
He pulled aside his caddie, Greg Milne.
The ‘guy’ was a fan. But he wasn’t one of MacIntyre. A hole earlier on Friday, he had let the pro know that he had bet against him during the second round of the BMW PGA Championship.
The conversation here, of course, is layered. Is there betting on golf? Yes, and likely since pegs were first put into turf. Is it legal? Yes, and in more places than ever before. Is it encouraged? Yes, and the major tours are backed by betting houses, and they promote it.
But is betting banned at tournament stops? That would be impossible to control, even if it was.
And are fans closer to the action than most sports? Yes.
So yes, there are worries, especially after a few incidents this year. At the celebrity-based American Century Championship, a fan who’d wagered on Steph Curry to win the event yelled in Mardy Fish’s backswing on the final hole in an effort to distract him. His tactic worked — Fish hooked his tee shot and Curry went on to win. About a month later, at the PGA Tour’s BMW Championship, another fan yelled for pro Max Homa to miss a putt, though that heckle failed. Afterward, Homa said he had heard a three-dollar bet was on the line.
But ask Jon Rahm, and he says the behavior is rampant.
“I feel like we hear it every single round,” Rahm said at last month’s Tour Championship. “That happens way more often than you guys may hear. I mean, it’s very, very present. In golf, spectators are very close, and even if they’re not directly talking to you, they’re close enough to where if they say to their buddy, ‘I bet you 10 bucks he’s going to miss it,’ you hear it. So it happens more often than you think.”
MacIntyre heard much the same, though the alarm to his caddie was notable.
Still, afterward, he laughed about it at one point. He told on-site reporters that the man had told him that he had not picked him to have the best score among the threesome of himself and fellow Ryder Cuppers Justin Rose and Matt Fitzpatrick.
On 18, MacIntyre was two-under for his round, as was Fitzpatrick, while Rose was even. MacIntyre and Rose then both birdied, while Fitzpatrick double-bogeyed.
“There’s obviously gambling going on in the game of golf nowadays and some people ride a lot of money on it and, unfortunately, he lost today,” MacIntyre told on-site reporters. “He told me he wanted me to get beat by my playing partners. Then he told me the amount he had riding on it.
“I actually spoke about that to someone a few weeks ago; it might even have been Jon about the heckling on the PGA Tour. It’s all about gambling nowadays.”
Is there anything that can be done?
According to Sports Illustrated’s Alex Miceli, the DP World Tour did not respond to a request for comment. As for organizational policies, unruly action is policed. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
“I think the Tour maybe should look into it because you don’t want it to get out of hand,” Rahm said at the Tour Championship. “It’s very easy, very, very easy in golf if you want to affect somebody.
“You’re so close, you can yell at the wrong time, and it’s very easy for that to happen.”