ATLANTA – There are no shortage of opinions when it comes to Bryson DeChambeau and his ongoing issues with some fans but there seems to be little genuine empathy for a player that has become extremely polarizing.
“I would say it's pretty tough to be Bryson DeChambeau right now,” Rory McIlroy said on Wednesday at the Tour Championship. “I don't know if anyone else on Tour has spoken up for him, but I definitely feel for him a little bit.”
DeChambeau was heckled last week at the BMW Championship by chants of “Brooksie,” a jab that goes back to the Memorial after he and Brooks Koepka were involved in a social media dust-up.
On Tuesday at East Lake, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said the circuit planned to crack down on hecklers and said calling DeChambeau “Brooksie” qualified as harassing behavior and McIlroy agreed.
“There are certainly things that he has done in the past that have brought some of this stuff on himself. I'm not saying that he's completely blameless in this,” McIlroy said. “But at the same time, I think he has been getting a pretty rough go of it of late and it's actually pretty sad to see because, deep down, he is a nice person and all he wants to do is try to be the best golfer he can be.”
Patrick Cantlay, who beat DeChambeau in a playoff last week at Caves Valley, witnessed firsthand some of the fan behavior and had a slightly more nuanced take on DeChambeau’s plight.
“Naturally, of course, there is some sympathy because you don't want to see anybody have a bunch of people be against you or even be heckled,” Cantlay said. “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 was created by the Tour this year to recognize those who bring added value to the circuit via five categories, including Google searches, Q Rating, Nielsen Brand Exposure rating and various social media engagement measurements.
The PIP runs through the end of the year and although the Tour doesn’t publish the compiled rankings, many believe DeChambeau is among the top 5 and in line to win the $8 million bonus.