21 July 2023

Open Championship targeted by Just Stop Oil protesters

21 July 2023

American golfer Billy Horschel intervened to help remove protesters who invaded the 17th green at Royal Liverpool on the second day of the Open Championship.

The 36-year-old escorted a woman wearing a Just Stop Oil T-shirt covered in orange paint off the green of the Hoylake links and into the custody of a police officer.

Both her and two other people wearing similar T-shirts were handcuffed and marched off the course by several police officers.

Just Stop Oil confirmed three people in total were involved in the protest.

“At around 12.20pm three Just Stop Oil supporters ran onto hole 17 at The Open in Royal Liverpool,” said a statement given to the PA news agency.

“They set off a smoke flare and threw orange powder paint on the green before being removed by security.”

Greenkeeping staff were dispatched to the hole and removed the powdered paint with leaf-blowers.

The environmental group have targeted a number of high-profile sporting events this summer, including the second Ashes Test at Lords – where England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow physically manhandled one pitch invader to the boundary – and Wimbledon, where three people ran onto the court throwing orange paper and jigsaw pieces.

Open organisers were prepared for a protest and stressed they had put in extra security precautions.

They did advise players not to engage with anyone who entered the course but Horschel decided against that.

This week the R&A revealed they had received a credible threat regarding Just Stop Oil protesters targeting last year’s Open at St Andrews but any action failed to materialise after security was stepped up.

It is understood police have now deployed one officer to each green on the course.

Horschel declined to speak after his round but Merseyside Police have been contacted for comment.

In a statement the R&A said: “A protester 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 protesters were removed.”

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