How Justin Thomas is fighting back against the "mashed potato" brigade

Justin Thomas plays a shot from the rough on hole three during the first round of the Honda Classic at PGA National Resort and Spa
Justin Thomas won the Honda Classic on Sunday - then made clear his frustrations

Justin Thomas' Honda Classic triumph has taken him into the world's top three - and this elevated stature can only help his bid to quell one of the biggest blights on the professional game.

The 24-year-old plays a fearless brand of golf, which has a happy knack of prevailing on tough tracks such as last week's course at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens.

And Thomas, who secured his first major with victory at last August's PGA Championship, is also prepared to take on fans who make these venues even more hostile for the leading stars.

For way too long, PGA Tour players and genuine fans, populating galleries or watching on television, have put up with lone idiotic shouts from crowds.

Depressingly, it feels as though the "mashed potato, get in the hole" brigade are swelling in number and becoming more sinister with their messages.

It is also clear that Thomas' patience has run out.

Justin Thomas
Thomas got a fan ejected for shouting on the way to winning The Honda Classic

A week after he and Rory McIlroy both criticised fan behaviour at the Genesis Open in Los Angeles, the winner in Florida last Sunday went even further by having a loud-mouthed miscreant ejected.

"I was like, OK, I've had enough," Thomas said of the incident that happened around the 16th tee last Sunday.

Amid an enthralling climax to the tournament, the US star was en route from the previous green when he heard a fan yell: "I hope you hit it in the water."

Then after Thomas dispatched a superbly accurate tee shot, the same spectator shouted: "Get in the bunker."

Often players are so wrapped up in their own game they barely hear such barbs or, more likely, they ignore it and let it pass for fear of disturbing their concentration and mental equilibrium.

The pugnacious Thomas had other ideas. Microphones picked up Thomas telling the fan, "Who said that? Was it you? Enjoy your day, you're done."

With his seventh victory in his last 31 starts - an increasingly astonishing win-rate - completed, Thomas elaborated. "I just turned around and asked who it was, and he didn't want to say anything, now that I had actually acknowledged him," he said.

"So he got to leave a couple of holes early.

"Just because you're standing behind the ropes doesn't mean that you can - I don't care how much I dislike somebody, I'm never going to wish that kind of stuff upon them.

"I felt it was inappropriate, so he had to go home."

Tiger Woods & Rory McIlroy
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are always followed by huge crowds

Thomas was part of a three ball with Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy that played the first two rounds together at Riviera the previous week. McIlroy said he needed headache tablets after the noise and rowdiness that had accompanied their rounds.

Putting it down to the excitement generated by Woods' long-awaited return to action, McIlroy stated: "I swear playing in front of all that, he gives up half-a-shot a day on the field.

"It's two shots a tournament he has to give to the field because of all that that goes on."

Thomas was equally unimpressed by the behaviour of those Californian fans. "I wish people didn't think it was so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we're trying to hit shots and play," he said.

Of course, taking criticism and needle from those who buy tickets often comes with the territory in professional sport.

But golf is a game to be performed in a respectful atmosphere where the protagonist's concentration should not be disturbed. There is not much of a game left if anti-social behaviour is allowed to proliferate - and there is no place for vocally imploring misfortune on a player's ball.

So it is refreshing to hear top stars taking a stand against those loudmouths. They ruin what should be one of the more civilised of sporting experiences.

Organisers who run tournaments should also take responsibility; after all, they are happy to cash in on the takings from all-day beer tents.

USA fans cheer on the first tee during the morning foursome matches on day two of the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla Golf Club on September 20, 2008 in Louisville, Kentucky
The Ryder Cup brings out the partisan side of golfing crowds

At the last Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, those tents were in plentiful supply and open from early morning. The abuse hurled at Europe's players, primarily Danny Willett, grew in volume as more and more booze was consumed.

It becomes an even more dangerous mix when it is a match on partisan lines rather than a run-of-the-mill tournament. This should be considered carefully ahead of this September's match between Europe and the US at Le Golf National.

The irony at the last Ryder Cup was that Willett was singled out because his brother had written an article branding US fans as, among other things, "pudgy, basement-dwelling irritants stuffed on cookie dough and p***y beer."

As it turned out, there was a noisy minority who lived down to PJ Willett's assessment.

Now, though, it is America's Player of the Year who is calling out those who seek to take advantage of what should be respectful silences, just to have their tiresome voices heard around the golfing world.

Thomas is a legitimate big noise in the game and his views on how spectators go about watching him are well worth a listen.