(Reuters) - Rory McIlroy believes unruly fan behaviour more common in other sports has made its way to golf courses on the PGA Tour and that spectators need to be held to a higher standard, the Northern Irishman said on Wednesday.
McIlroy, speaking ahead of this week's Tour Championship in Atlanta and a day after the PGA Tour announced an updated fan conduct policy, said there is no room for behaviour that goes against the civility and respect that are hallmarks of the game.
"As golfers I feel like we're held to a higher standard than other sports and other athletes and I think because of that the people that come to watch us play should be held to a higher standard as well," said four-times major champion McIlroy.
"There's no room in golf for people to abuse someone on the golf course when all they're trying to do is do their best and win a golf tournament and follow their dreams.
"That might sound a little stiff or snobby or whatever, but that's golf and we have traditions."
McIlroy was speaking a day after PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said unruly behaviour will no longer be tolerated and that any spectators who taunt players could be thrown out of tournaments.
"Some of it crosses the line," McIlroy said of the comments made by spectators. "Certain other sports culture has fed into our game and fed into the fan base that's definitely affected it, and people will make the argument that, well, it happens in every other sport.
"But I would say that we're not any other sport and I think golf should hold itself to a higher standard. The players are certainly held to a higher standard than other sports, so why wouldn't our fan base be."
McIlroy also said he had sympathy for world number seven Bryson DeChambeau, who has been the target of taunts in recent months as spectators took sides in his beef with fellow golfer Brooks Koepka.
"I would say it's pretty tough to be Bryson DeChambeau right now," said McIlroy. "And I don't know if anyone else on Tour has spoken up for him, but I definitely feel for him a little bit."
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)