The PGA Tour said Monday that it has not seen an uptick in spectators attempting to distract golfers — potentially for betting purposes — since legal sports gambling began spreading around the nation.
A fan was ejected from the BMW Championship on Saturday for allegedly yelling “Pull it!” while Max Homa was attempting a short put on the 17th green. Homa said the fan had bet $3 on him to miss the putt.
Laura Neal, the PGA Tour’s executive vice president of brand communications, told ESPN on Monday that security teams will take “swift and immediate action to protect the integrity of the competition” but added that no new measures have been in place.
“This isn’t rampant,” Neal said Monday. “Of course, for our security team, we want to make sure our players have the proper arena to compete in, but [there’s been] nothing outside the ordinary since gaming has become legal.”
Homa, who made the 5-foot putt despite the fan yelling, said after Saturday’s round that similar incidents of fans intentionally trying to distract golfers are “very rare.”
“I love that people can gamble on golf, but that is one thing I’m worried about,” Homa said.
“It’s just always something that’s on your mind,” he added. “It’s on us to stay focused or whatever, but it’s just annoying when it happens. … Fans are so great about being quiet when we play. I think they are awesome. When anybody ever talks, it’s so unintentional. They don’t know we’re hitting. It just sucks when it’s incredibly intentional.”
In July, a patron at the American Century Championship celebrity tournament yelled during the backswing of leader Mardy Fish on the 18th tee of the final round. Fish ended up losing to Steph Curry and later told “The Ryen Russillo Podcast” that the patron who distracted him admitted to having bet on Curry.
Legal sportsbooks are operating in 34 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. A retail sportsbook at TPC Scottsdale in Arizona is slated to open in the fall.