American superstar golfer John Rahm has said the PGA Tour will find it “extremely difficult” to police fans who have wagered on golf tournaments and try to directly impact the outcome, as reported by The Guardian. His comments came as he addressed the media at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia ahead of the start of the Tour championship.

Gambling on golf has come under scrutiny of late, after Max Homa hit out at a fan who tried to distract him at Olympia Fields Country Club on the weekend. Homa, attempting to sink a 5-footer on the 17th hole in the third round of the BMW Championship, heard a spectator yell “Pull it!” when he was mid-backswing.

The yell came after his playing partner, Chris Kirk, had experienced similar heckling with his 18-foot birdie putt on the same hole. Homa commented: “There was a probably drunk – I hope, for his case, or else he’s just the biggest loser there is – but he was cheering at Chris for missing his put short”.

Homa continued: “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”.

Subsequently, Homa added: “I love that people can gamble on golf, but that is one thing I’m worried about. 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. 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”.

Rahm echoed the sentiment of his fellow golf professional, emphasizing that it’s much more common than most people would ever think.

He said: “I feel like we hear it every single round. That happens way more often than you guys may hear. I mean, it’s very present.”

The former world number one continued: “In golf, spectators are very close, and even if they’re not directly talking to you, they’re close enough to where if they say to their buddy, I bet you 10 bucks he’s going to miss it, you hear it.”

“I think the tour maybe should look into it, because you don’t want it to get out of hand, right?”, added Rahm.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monaham told ESPN: “Our fans have great appreciation for the integrity of the competition. They’re respectful of our players. We have seen that continue to be the case, and expect that to continue to be the case. We have tremendous respect for what these players need to do in order to provide and present the tremendous performances they do”.

The tournament where Kirk and Homa faced the issue was held in Chicago, Illinois. Illinois has legalized sports betting, and it has not been made clear whether or not the wager was between friends or with a sportsbook operator. East Lake, the location for the next tournament sits in Georgia. Georgia sports betting continues to be subject to a legislative push, although the most recent attempt (HB 237) has been tabled in the Senate after two readings.