OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. — Max Homa experienced the potential for disruption with betting at PGA Tour events when he said a fan yelled in the middle of his 5-foot birdie putt Saturday in the BMW Championship.
Homa already was struggling with short putts on a windy day at Olympia Fields, having missed a 2-foot putt on the seventh hole and a 5-footer at No. 12.
What bothered him was what he described as a drunk fan on the 17th hole, right after Chris Kirk had left his 18-foot birdie putt about 1 foot short. Homa holed his 5-footer, then shouted and pointed at the man as he walked off the green.
“There was a probably drunk — I hope, for his case, or else he’s just he biggest loser there is — but he was cheering and yelling at Chris for missing his putt short,” Homa said. “And he kept yelling — one of them had $3 for me to make mine — and I got to the back of my back stroke and he yelled, ‘Pull it!’ pretty loud.
“I made it right in the middle, and then I just started yelling at him.”
Fans have been placing side bets on golf for years, especially on holes like the island-green 17th at the TPC Sawgrass or the notorious 16th hole at the Phoenix Open. Golf now allows for live betting, and one concern always has been whether that could disrupt play.
“I love that people can gamble on golf, but that is the one thing I’m worried about,” Homa said. “I don’t know what he had to lose. He got kicked out probably, and we were the last group.”
Homa said he called the fan a clown with “maybe another word,” and that caddie Joe Greiner was probably a little more direct.
“It’s just always something that’s on your mind,” Homa said of fans shouting. “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.
“It just sucks when it’s incredibly intentional, and his friend specifically said it was for $3. Not that money matters, but that’s a frustrating number.”
“It was nice to make it right in the middle,” Homa said. “And, hopefully, he had to pay his buddy that $3 immediately on the way out of the property.”