But that's exactly what happened to Phil Mickelson at Bethpage Black Sunday. According to Newsday, one fan called Phil "fat," while another noted, "Time to raise some money, Phil," apparently in reference to the recent news about Amy Mickelson. Classy, I know.
Look, all else equal, heckling is relatively harmless. Sure, it might occasionally rile up golfers not used to the abuse (as it were), but it also helps us keep things in perspective: golf is a game, it's not a congressional hearing.
When heckling, discretion is obviously important, but alcohol -- also a heckling staple -- counteracts common sense and good judgment. Which is why the USGA changed the beer policy mid-tournament:
The rowdiness that prompted Woods to shush fans Saturday night carried over into U.S. Open play Sunday. The USGA shut down beer stands at 6 p.m. - 15 minutes earlier than Saturday - but there they were at the first tee Sunday at 6:30 p.m., a dozen fans mercilessly ripping every golfer who teed off to start the fourth round.Yep, that's right, the USGA shut down beer sales 15 minutes early. Problem solved. There are mitigating circumstances, of course. Save a hurricane, the weather couldn't have been worse. And fans, with nothing else to do between stoppages of play, passed time by downing beers.
Despite a few isolated incidents (fans jeered Ian Poulter for his pastel ensemble, although it's not clear they were drunk, possibly just offended), the New York State Police said that they had made no arrests, and the USGA had the foresight to have cabs on site to take fans from the grounds once play ended. One tiny oversight: the unintended consequences of good intentions:
[Steve Dash, vice president for operations for Long Island Yellow Cab] said the USGA has made the drinking problem worse by not allowing cabs to queue up near the taxi stand on Winding Road. The result on Saturday was drunken fights over scarce rides, said Charles Kappauf, operations manager for the cab company.The real loser in all this? Sergio Garcia, who was ripped (and re-ripped) mercilessly in 2002, the last time the Open was at Bethpage. And everybody just pretended like it didn't happen. Well, except the hecklers.
"There's some yelling, some brawling. It gets a little dicey," said Kappauf, who's on site trying to control the crowds. "They don't form a line. They form a mob."