Ernie Els backs Bob MacIntyre in Kyle Stanley ‘fore’ row

Ernie Els, a two-time winner, has praised Bob MacIntyre for calling out a fellow player for not shouting ‘Fore’ in the 148th Open Championship and believes it is time for bans to be imposed when spectators are hit in such incidents.

Kyle Stanley failed to shout fore but was unrepentant. Picture: Peter Morrison/AP
Kyle Stanley failed to shout fore but was unrepentant. Picture: Peter Morrison/AP
Kyle Stanley failed to shout fore but was unrepentant. Picture: Peter Morrison/AP

The South African urged the golfing bodies to start taking action after MacIntyre confronted American Kyle Stanley as he twice clattered fans without shouting the sport’s traditional warning in the second round at Royal Portrush.

A marshal was hit on the shin in the first incident while MacIntyre’s caddie Greg Milne’s mum suffered bruising on her hand as she was then struck shielding her face, prompting the 22-year-old from Oban to have “harsh words” with Stanley as they signed their cards.

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At last year’s Ryder Cup in France, a woman spectator lost an eye after she was struck by a wayward blow by Brooks Koepka and, just last Monday, a six-year-old girl died after her father accidentally hit her with a golf ball on a course in Utah.

“When you hit a wayward shot and you don’t shout ‘Fore’, I don’t get that,” admitted Els after completing his third round on the Antrim coast. “I don’t know why people would do that. I’ve hit a lot of foul balls and I’m shouting ‘Fore’ as it leaves the club. Even if my playing partner hits it wayward, I’m going to shout even if he doesn’t because I’ve got my wife and daughters in the crowd.”

MacIntyre’s decision to confront the more experienced Stanley sent social media into meltdown as people praised the young Scot. “Robert has taken a good stance there because it is uncalled for,” added Els. “People shouldn’t be so selfish. There are things bigger than the game going on. We saw what happened at the Ryder Cup and there’s been many instances when golf balls have really hurt people.

“A golf ball is a very dangerous object. I read in the paper the other day about a six-year-old child in the US who was sitting on a golf cart. Her father hit a ball, it hit her and she died. These things can happen. People think golf is not a dangerous sport, but it can be because the ball is coming at speed and, if it hits you in the wrong place, something bad can happen.”

Els, who still stays in contact with a spectator he hit with his opening shot in this event at Royal Liverpool in 2014, said: “They take video recordings of everything. If they get a video recording of an incident like that, then fine the players accordingly. Maybe suspend the player even because it’s really dangerous. I’m not a rules man, but if there’s video evidence, they should take action. We as players as a governing body should do something about it.”

Stanley, a two-time PGA Tour winner, said the reason he hadn’t shouted ‘Fore’ at the 17th on Friday was because a number of others, including MacIntyre and Andrew Johnston, the other player in the group, had already yelled out. “Everyone to the right of that ball, they knew it was coming,” said the 31-year-old after his third round. “So to me it’s kind of a non-issue. I’m not really sure why he (MacIntyre) decided to make such an issue about it. I know it hit his caddie’s mum’s hand off the bounce, and that’s unfortunate. If it didn’t, I don’t think we’d be talking about it right now.”

He said that he didn’t know anyone had been injured so, therefore, didn’t feel the need to apologise and declined the opportunity as he had a pop at MacIntyre. “When you talk about somebody playing within the boundaries of etiquette in golf, that’s kind of a touchy situation,” he added. “To paint somebody in a bad light, not playing within the etiquette of the game, you’ve got to be careful when you do that. When you tell your story, you’ve got to make sure you have all the details. From what I read last night, he didn’t do that. He’s a young player. I’ve been out here a while. So I don’t feel the need to be schooled on the rules of golf or what to do when you hit a shot off line.”

As far as MacIntyre is concerned, the matter is closed. “I’ve done my part,” he said. “It’s the etiquette of the game. It’s my opinion. I’ve said my piece. I done what I felt I had to do. There’s nothing else I can do. You learn from everything.”