Rory McIlroy is the latest player to wade into the controversy surrounding Bryson DeChambeau. Speaking ahead of the FedEx Cup finale, the Northern Irishman expressed his “sympathy” at the scrutiny his fellow tour player receives on a week-to-week basis from packed galleries.
In particular, DeChambeau has been haunted by chants of “Brooksie” since his spat with Brooks Koepka broke out and it reached new heights in the aftermath of the big-hitting American’s play-off loss to Patrick Cantlay at last week’s BMW Championship.
So much so, in fact, that PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has since issued a stern warning to fans that any disrespectful behaviour towards players could lead to expulsion from the event.
And on the eve of the Tour Championship at East Lake, McIlroy was asked for his thoughts on the matter currently dominating golf’s headlines.
“I certainly feel some sympathy for him because I certainly I don’t think you should be ostracised or criticised for being different,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ve all known from the start that Bryson is different and he’s not going to conform to the way people want him to be.
“He is his own person, he thinks his own thoughts, and everyone has a right to do that.”
On the face of it, it might seem odd that DeChambeau needs mollycoddled. After all, the World No. 7 has a very real chance of going to bed on Sunday night $15m richer.
However, McIlroy, himself a two-time beneficiary of the end-of-season FedEx Cup cash cow, does think his American counterpart has brought a chunk of the criticism on himself.
“There are certainly things he’s done in the past that have brought some of this stuff on himself – I’m not saying that he’s completely blameless in this – 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, I think he’s a nice person.
“All he wants to do is try to be the best golfer he can be and it just seems like every week something else happens and I’d say it’s pretty tough to be Bryson DeChambeau right now and I don’t know if anyone else on tour has spoken up about him but I definitely feel for him a little bit.
“I don’t think he’s completely blameless in all this but at the same time I think he’s trying to become better and trying to learn from his mistakes and I think everyone should give him a chance to try to do that.”
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