Justin Thomas explains why he ejected a fan from his gallery during the final round of his Honda Classic victory
For a second consecutive week, Justin Thomas had to deal with some rowdy fans.
Thomas and Rory McIlroy, both paired with Tiger Woods at the Genesis Open, each said the fans last week at Riviera were "completely unacceptable." Thomas explained that McIlroy pointed out a fan who was yelling inappropriate things at Riviera, having the fan escorted out. And the winner of Sunday's Honda Classic handled another heckler himself en route to winning the tournament.
Following his eighth PGA Tour victory, taking home the Honda Classic in a playoff against Luke List, the 24-year-old offered an explanation of why he pointed out a fan and asked for him to be removed from the gallery -- after it seemed the fan had rooted against him for a second occasion.
"We were walking up on the [16th tee] and this guy, I don't know who he was talking to, but sounds like it was [to] me," Thomas said in his post-round presser. "He said something like -- he was like, 'I hope you hit it in the water, hit it in the water,' something like that. I just kind of like looked back there. Didn't say anything.
"Just, again, I feel like there's no place for that, and I hit it and my ball is in the air and it's not -- it's in the middle of the fairway and he's yelling for it to get in the bunker. I was like, okay, I've had enough. So I just turned around and asked who it was, and he didn't want to say anything, now that I had actually acknowledged him. So he got to leave a couple holes early.
"I don't want to kick someone out just to kick them out. It's just it's so inappropriate. We're out here trying to win a golf tournament. I would have done it if he said it to Luke [List], just like Rory did to the guy that said something to me at L.A.
"Just because you're standing behind the ropes doesn't mean that you can -- I don't care how much I dislike somebody, I'm never going to wish that kind of stuff upon them. I felt it was inappropriate, so he had to go home."
We should first say that it's unfair for those of us who've never had a tour card to comment about what how a player acts while competing for millions of dollars under pressure. We can't relate. We're just here to state the facts.
But it does seem as though the crowds the past two weeks, perhaps particularly because Tiger played in back-to-back events, have been larger than the typical golf crowd -- and perhaps rowdier, still, with a more casual fan attracted to attend. Though some will argue that paying fans in other sports get to yell whatever they want at the athletes they've paid to watch, golf is much more of an individual game -- and the moment of concentration before you hit the ball makes it even tougher to focus out the crowds yelling negative things.
Thomas explained his stance on this, too, in a tweet after Riviera:
Tiger won't be in the field at this week's WGC-Mexico Championship. If he's relevant for the rest of 2018, though, it's hard to imagine fans at those events will tame it down too much.
UPDATE: Thomas shared his reaction to the negative comments he had received in a tweet on Monday.