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Fresh from winning his fifth PGA Tour title last weekend, Patrick Cantlay has hit out at the organisation’s Player Impact Program and speculated that the social media “attention-seeking” it encourages may be partly to blame for Bryson DeChambeau’s current issues.

Cantlay defeated DeChambeau in a playoff for the BMW Championship on Sunday, after which the latter was reportedly involved in an angry confrontation with a spectator who had heckled him.

Such experiences have become commonplace for the US Open champion over the summer following an escalation in tensions between he and arch-rival Brooks Koepka at the US PGA Championship in May.

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Asked for his thoughts on the noise currently surrounding DeChambeau, Cantlay suggested that the Player Impact Program – a lucrative $40m bonus scheme designed to reward pros who drive the most fan and sponsor engagement – might be responsible.

“I think when you have people that go for attention-seeking manoeuvres, you leave yourself potentially open to having the wrong type of attention,” said the world No.4. “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. It’s hard to get all 12 people on a jury on your side.

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“If you’re playing professional golf and 98% 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% 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.”

He added: “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 armour of 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.

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“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 armour on and people are going to love you.

“Golf is different in that respect, that if you only have 2% of the people that are very against you because you’re polarising 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.

“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. 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.”

• Old Tiger putter sells for small fortune

Cantlay added that he has no idea where he currently ranks on the PIP standings, nor does he have any interest in keeping any of the money should he win some.

“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,” he added. “I won’t take any of the PIP money. I think it’s kind of ridiculous.”

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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