Prior to the start of play at the 151st Open Championship, R&A CEO Martin Slumbers admitted that activists had targeted last year’s tournament and although the threat was snuffed out, he conceded the same might happen this year.
“We have significant security procedures in place. We work clearly with the law enforcement agencies, and we’ll wait and see what happens,” Slumbers said. “You will have seen that we advised the players, please don’t get involved, and I stand by that. We have enough things in place to be able to deal with it.”
As Slumbers predicted, members associated with the environmental group “Just Stop Oil” attempted to make a mark on the activity at Royal Liverpool on Friday during the second round, although the group had little success.
“Just Stop Oil” organizers are pleading with the British government to stop licensing all new oil, gas and coal projects. The group has made appearances at cricket, tennis and horse racing events.
According to the coach, who asked to remain anonymous, a man was standing by a television camera structure behind the second green when he reached into his backpack and pulled on a bright orange baseball cap. The color orange is closely associated with a group that has disrupted numerous high-profile events in Britain this summer.
The witness said the man was immediately wrestled to the ground by a nearby police officer and other security officials quickly moved in. A photo taken by the coach shows a man pinned to the ground by an officer while a pair of security team members assist.
Golfweek asked the R&A to comment on the incident and was referred to a statement issued Thursday by Merseyside Police, which said a man had been escorted from Royal Liverpool after he entered the Open without a ticket. ”Officers were made aware of the incident and a male was identified but tried to run away. He was detained under the Section 1 pace order and escorted off the grounds,” the statement said.
“So you rugby tackle people to search them for a ticket?” the coach who witnessed the event told Golfweek. “He didn’t look to be running anywhere to me. No way they tackle you for a ticket violation.”
The color orange is closely associated with Just Stop Oil, a British environmental group that has used orange paint and powder in direct action protests to draw attention to the climate crisis in an effort to force the U.K. government to move away from fossil fuels. The group has targeted high-profile sports events, including disruptions to two matches at Wimbledon earlier this month. An incident at the Open has been widely anticipated.
And Billy Horschel walked a protester off after an orange flare was fired in the air on the 17th green. Horschel was playing with Alex Noren and Corey Conners.
The R&A released a statement that indicated four arrests were made.
“Play was not disrupted and we would like to thank marshals, players and other spectators for their vigilance and understanding as the protesters were removed,” the statement read.
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At Wimbledon two weeks ago, two protesters were arrested after running onto one of the courts and disrupting a match by throwing orange confetti.
Oil in One: Just Stop Oil Disrupt The Open
Three Just Stop Oil Supporters have disrupted the The British Open – they demand that the UK government halts all new oil and gas projects.
— Just Stop Oil (@JustStop_Oil) July 21, 2023