You can include Patrick Cantlay among the PGA Tour players who don't like how some fans have treated Bryson DeChambeau.
Cantlay was asked about DeChambeau during a Wednesday press conference ahead of this week's Tour Championship. Cantlay's off-the-cuff answer was so good that the follow-up questioner jokingly asked if he was reading off a script. He wasn't and it's worth quoting him in full, which we do below. His is a nuanced take that also calls into question the Tour's Player Incentive Program and how it might lead to problems in the game.
In case you missed it, the existence of the PGA Tour's Player Impact Program was not publicly known until Golfweek's Eamon Lynch reported on it this spring (full disclosure: I worked for Eamon previously at golf.com) The program will reward 10 players with $40 million in prize money based on "how much they move the needle" in digital metrics, including search volume and social-media engagement. The exact formula is a secret. The subtext of what Cantlay said Tuesday suggests he thinks the Brooks/Bryson feud is an outgrowth of it.
Here's what Cantlay said, according to the PGA Tour transcript:
Q. Rory mentioned that he was talking, I asked a little bit about Bryson and he said he felt sympathy for him. Having been, having played alongside him last week, just wondering what you feel.
Patrick Cantlay: I think it's a tough situation. I think, 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. 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.
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 it and it may be a symptom of going for too much attention.
But it can be awesome too because if you succeed and you act perfect all the time and you do the perfect things all the time, and then you also go for the right attention-seeking moves, you get like double bonus points because everyone loves you and you're on the perfect side of it. I think it's just a very live by the sword, die by the sword type of deal. And when you leave it to a jury, you don't know what's going to happen. So it's hard to get all 12 people on a jury on your side.
And if you're playing professional golf on the stage that you're playing on and 98 percent of the people are pulling for you and there are 10,000 people on the green, I don't know, what does that leave, 20 people that don't like you, even if 98 percent of the people like you? And if those 20 people have had enough to drink or feel emboldened enough to say something because they want to impress the girl they're standing next to, then, yeah, like, you're in trouble. Like, people are going to say bad things.
Golf, unfortunately, doesn't and probably shouldn't tolerate that. I think there's a respect level in golf and there's intimacy that the fans can get so, so close to you, and you're also all by yourself, and you don't have the armor of putting on Yankee pinstripes, and you don't have the armor of having, knowing that if you're on the Yankees and people hate you and you're playing in Boston, you can tolerate it for three hours in right field. But you only tolerate it because you know next week or on Friday you're going to show up and you're going to be in Yankee Stadium and no matter what you do, even if you fall on your face, you're going to have the pinstripe armor on and people are going to love you.
So golf is different in that respect, that if you only have 2 percent of the people that are very against you because you're polarizing and because you're attention-seeking, then you're kind of dead because those people are going to be loud, and they're going to want to say something to get under your skin.
And I think golf shouldn't let that happen. I think the Masters is a great example of a place that doesn't let that happen, and it's the greatest place to watch and play professional golf because of the atmosphere they create. I think if you look at the history of the game and you look at the respect that underlies the entirety of the history of the game, we shouldn't tolerate it, and we shouldn't celebrate that. We should celebrate the fan that is respectful and pulls for their side.
So it's a tough situation. It's a tough topic, but that would be my take on it and I'm sure it's not perfect, but after thinking about it a little bit, it's the best I can come up with.
Q. I thought you were reading from a script there. You actually made that up off the top of your head?
Patrick Cantlay: I'm looking around here. I don't see any prompters.
Q. What's your PIP rating by the way? Do you know? Do you guys have access to look at it?
Patrick Cantlay: I don't know.
Q. Do they tell you?
Patrick Cantlay: I don't know. I got to be honest, I doubt I'm doing very well in that category. If I were to win any portion of the 10, I would let you know that I win in that 10 and I would be compelled to give all that money back to the fans that made it possible, because there's no way a person like me should be able to get into the top 10 of the PIP if not for people out there deciding that they want me to be in the top 10 and to try to get some of that PIP money for themselves. Because I, if I win PIP money, I am going to give it back to the people that made it possible in some way, shape or form. I won't take any of the PIP money. I think it's kind of ridiculous and I think it's, when I said there's a symptom of a larger problem, I think that's exactly what I'm talking about.