Protestors from the controversial environmental activist group spread an orange substance on the approach to the green at Royal Liverpool’s 17th hole. Steve Carroll, Matt Chivers, and Matt Coles report
Just Oil Protestors have hit The Open – with demonstrators attempting to get onto the 17th at Royal Liverpool.
The eco-activists struck at about 12.20pm during Friday’s second round, setting off a smoke flare and throwing orange powder paint across the fringe of the green before being tackled by security.
Billy Horschel, in the group with Alex Noren and Corey Connors playing the hole, reportedly helped remove a protestor.
The group confirmed in a tweet they were behind the attack, saying: “Three Just Stop Oil Supporters have disrupted The British Open – they demand that the UK government halts all new oil and gas projects.”
🏌️ 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
The group, sharing a video of the aftermath, added: “There will be no more holes in one when our society collapses. We must stop our government’s 100 new oil and gas licenses before they go onto cause more harm.”
There will be no more holes in one when our society collapses. We must stop our government’s 100 new oil and gas licenses before they go on to cause more harm. https://t.co/HaNZKBsfLF pic.twitter.com/ZLDAgOqj5X
— Just Stop Oil (@JustStop_Oil) July 21, 2023
In a statement on their website, Just Stop Oil said two of those “taking action” were 19-year-old Hailey Birch, a Leicestershire student, and Noah Crane, an 18-year-old community coordinator from Buxton.
Crane said: “I’m disrupting the Open today, not because I want to, but as a young person, I feel I have no other choice.
“This government is knowingly taking action that will kill hundreds of millions of people and destroy my future. They have made it clear that they value the profits of the few over the lives of the many.
“So now we must make it clear that we will not stand for that; that we will not roll over and allow them to sell our lives to line their pockets.”
A course marshal told NCG he saw a pair of protestors – one male and one female – break under the ropes from either side of the 17th.
He added the protestors were on the hole for no more than a minute and were quickly apprehended.
He said they remained silent as they were restrained and added they were gesticulated at from spectators surrounding the green.
NCG’s Matt Chivers, on arriving at the scene, said: “I saw orange stains on the ground and orange stains on the walkway, halfway up the hole to the left of the green.
“Spectators were talking about the incident, asking people if they’d seen what had happened.”
Two fans, who asked to remain anonymous, told NCG’s Matt Coles: “They came out of nowhere and, luckily, did not get on the green. Billy grabbed the woman and took her to the police.
“We heard there was a possibility of this happening but we still didn’t expect it.”
Spectator Jack Collins added: “It happened so quickly, we couldn’t believe it. The woman got through and threw orange powder around, but the wind blew it back towards her, covering her. Billy then was able to see her off the place.”
None of the players spoke to the media about the incident after their rounds.
Merseyside Police confirmed four people had been arrested. “At around 12.20pm four people, who are believed to be members of Just Stop Oil, have attempted to disrupt play at the 17th hole,” said a statement.
“A small amount of powder was discarded onto the playing surface and it was reported that one person had a smoke pyrotechnic.
“Two males and two females were quickly detained by both stewards and officers and they were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal damage and public nuisance. They will be taken into police custody to be questioned. The powder was removed and play was uninterrupted.
“Merseyside Police respects the right to protest and expression of views but antisocial, criminal behaviour or disorder will not be tolerated and will be dealt with robustly.
“Police and R&A management will be looking to ensure the activities of anyone who wants to protest don’t disrupt the event itself and if necessary we will use relevant legislation to deal those people involved in it.
“Contingency plans are in place to visitors enjoy these events in safety and with minimal disruption.”
The R&A also said: “A protestor was quickly apprehended on the 17th hole and is one of four people who have been arrested by police.
“Play was not disrupted and we would like to thank the marshals, players and other spectators for their vigilance and understanding as the protestors were removed.”
Earlier, Merseyside Police confirmed a drone had been seized after it was “flown in a restricted area above The Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake yesterday”.
After protesting at a swathe of high-profile sporting events over the summer, including the men’s Ashes and Wimbledon, many were expecting golf’s oldest major to be another target for Just Stop Oil.
R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers had been asked about the prospect of the environmental activists disrupting The Open ahead of the tournament and said: “We have significant security procedures in place. We work clearly with the law enforcement agencies, and we’ll wait and see what happens.
“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.”
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