Rory McIlroy, Patrick Cantlay express empathy for Bryson DeChambeau over heckling he experiences

Written by on September 3, 2021

While Bryson DeChambeau has emerged as one of the biggest forces on the PGA Tour over the last few years, the buzz he’s generated off the course has at times overshadowed his successes. Between an ongoing feud with fellow star Brooks Koepka, ripping one of his driver manufacturers after a rough round at The Open Championship, and most recently, showing clear dismay over taunts from fans who yell “Brooksie” his way, his talents have taken a back seat to the drama surrounding him.

However, a pair of fellow stars in Patrick Cantlay and Rory McIlroy came to DeChambeau’s defense ahead of this weekend’s Tour Championship. Cantlay edged out DeChambeau in a playoff last weekend at the BMW Championship and got a front row seat to the spectacle he faces. Cantlay called the taunting DeChambeau faces from fans he a “tough situation” and said he had sympathy for what Bryson is going through.

“I think anybody that watches sports and sees someone being heckled, they don’t like that inherently because if you imagine yourself as that person, it wouldn’t feel good,” he said. “I think, unfortunately, it might be a symptom of a larger problem, which is social media driven and which is potentially Player Impact Program derived.

“I think, when you have people that go for attention-seeking maneuvers, you leave yourself potentially open to having the wrong type of attention, and I think maybe that’s where we’re at and it may be a symptom of going for too much attention.”

The Player Impact Program is one spawned earlier this year by the PGA Tour that has a $40 million annual pot that will be split amongst the top 10 players on the tour based solely on their Q ratings and social indexes. 

McIlroy also took on a similarly empathetic tone as Cantlay did in defending DeChambeau. While admitting there are “certainly things that he has done in the past that have brought some of this stuff on himself,” McIlroy believes DeChambeau deserves to be cut some slack.

“I certainly feel some sympathy for him because … I don’t think that you should be ostracized or criticized for being different, and I think we have all known from the start that Bryson is different and he is not going to conform to the way people want him to be,” McIlroy said. “He is his own person. He thinks his own thoughts and everyone has a right to do that.”

While explaining that DeChambeau is not exactly blameless for the reaction he receives, McIlroy  sees a golfer striving to learn from his mistakes and become better.

“It just seems like every week something else happens and I would say it’s pretty tough to be Bryson DeChambeau right now,” he added. 

DeChambeau has been a polarizing player on the PGA Tour for a long time, and the heckling he faces is certainly not new, but it has come to a head of late, with the PGA Tour announcing this week that it will eject fans for yelling “Brooksie” — a taunt focused on rival Brooks Koepka — at him.

While he’s clearly been irked by the heckling and even reportedly shouted expletives at one fan at the BMW Championship last weekend for partaking in it before the fan was ejected, DeChambeau for his part has largely been mum on the matter of late because of a media boycott that began more than a month ago.

The third and final leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs starts on Thursday at the Tour Championship with DeChambeau sitting at third in the standings with a chance to win the lucrative $15 million prize for first place. 

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