Rory McIlroy has never been one to shy away from sharing his feelings. That was once again evident Wednesday on the eve of the Tour Championship in Atlanta, GA.
After being asked his thoughts on the emergence of live sports betting and its impact on golf, McIlroy was blunt with his response.
“It is a bit of a slippery slope because I don’t think there’s any — maybe basketball and you can sit courtside… it’s a different environment where people can really affect the play out here,” he said.
This past weekend, a fan at the BMW Championship reportedly got vocal during Max Homa’s backswing on a putt. Homa sank the putt anyway but engaged the fans involved, only to find out there was a live betting inspiration to the act.
Live betting is relatively new to golf. It can create a reason for fans to affect what happens on the course, which can have an impact on the integrity of the sport. That is understandably worrisome.
“My biggest pet peeve is when you’re reading a putt and someone that’s been sitting there all day is like, ‘it doesn’t break as much as you think.’ Like, you know, to me, I just think, ‘shut up and don’t be a part of the show, just enjoy watching the golf, right?’”
McIlroy’s sentiments are intelligible and he’s not alone. On Tuesday, Jon Rahm let the public know that this happens far more than people realize.
Golf is one of the few sports where serenity and quiet is not only appreciated, but expected. Nevertheless, there is nothing stopping fans from screaming out during someone’s backswing, potentially affecting the outcome.
“As long as it’s policed the right way and as long as there’s measures put in place for hopefully things like what happened to Max Homa last Saturday not to happen,” said McIlroy.
But the question remains, how can you police this effectively? Legal sports betting is only growing more common around the country, so we are likely going to see more of this until the PGA Tour can figure out a way to curtail it.
Kendall Capps is the Senior Editor/Editorial Manager of Playing Through. You can follow us at _PlayingThrough across all four major socials for more golf coverage.