Max Homa lit up a fan standing near the 17th green at Olympia Fields Country Club on Saturday afternoon.
Homa was just about to putt near the end of his third round at the BMW Championship when he heard a spectator yell out, “Pull it!” in the middle of his backswing. That fan, Homa said, had placed a $3 bet on him to miss the putt.
The same thing happened with Homa’s playing partner, Chris Kirk, during his 18-foot birdie putt on the hole. Kirk’s putt stopped just short of the hole, and he tapped-in for par. Thankfully, Homa made his 5-footer.
"There was a probably drunk — I hope, for his case, or else he's just the biggest loser there is — but he was cheering and yelling at Chris for missing his putt short," Homa said. "And he kept yelling — one of them had $3 for me to make mine — and I got to the back of my back stroke and he yelled, 'Pull it!' pretty loud.
"I made it right in the middle, and then I just started yelling at him."
Homa and his caddie Joe Greiner then started yelling at the fan as they made their way off the green and over to the final hole.
“[I told him] that he’s a clown, maybe with another word,” Homa said. “I don’t know what Joe yelled. He was a lot meaner, I think. It was just, I don’t know, long day I guess.”
It’s unclear what kind of live bet the fans had placed specifically, or if it was done through a sportsbook.
Homa, who set a course record with an 8-under 62 on Friday, struggled Saturday. He made a triple-bogey at the par-4 seventh, and then limped in with a 1-over 71. That dropped him to two shots back from Scottie Scheffler and Matt Fitzpatrick, who entered Sunday’s final round at 11-under.
Viktor Hovland flew ahead late and overtook Scheffler on Sunday to grab the win at Olympia Fields. He set a new course record with his 61. That jumped him to No. 2 in the FedExCup standings headed into next week’s Tour Championship. Homa finished T5 with Brian Harman after his final-round 68. Homa will start at 4-under next week in Atlanta, six shots back from Scheffler in the staggered start.
The PGA Tour said Monday that the fan in question on Saturday was ejected from the tournament, but that no new security measures have been added recently as sports gambling has grown throughout the country. The incident on Saturday was an outlier.
"This isn't rampant," PGA Tour vice president of brand communications Laura Neal said Monday, via ESPN. "Of course, for our security team, we want to make sure our players have the proper arena to compete in, but [there's been] nothing outside the ordinary since gaming has become legal."
Though Saturday’s interaction with that fan wasn’t pleasant, Homa insisted that was very rare. He’s all for fans gambling on golf, just as long as that doesn’t spill over into the course.
“It's just always something that's on your mind. It's on us to stay focused or whatever, but it's just annoying when it happens,” Homa said. “It just feels — it's like the one thing we have in this game, fans are so great about being quiet when we play. I think they are awesome. When anybody ever talks, it's so unintentional. They don't know we're hitting.
“It just sucks when it's incredibly intentional, and his friend specifically said it was for $3, so that was — not that the money matters, but that's a frustrating number.”