There will be no repeat at this week’s Open Championship of the lax security we saw at last week’s Scottish Open.
That’s the strong message from R&A CEO Martin Slumbers when asked his reaction to the incident early last Friday morning when a spectator blazingly walked-up to Rory McIlroy’s golf bag to remove a 6-iron and then, to the amazement of all, started swinging the club on the 10th tee, McIlroy’s opening hole at the Renaissance course.
“Well, we are deeply conscious all the time of the health and safety, particularly the safety of the players, no more so this year than in previous years,” said Slumbers.
“But we’re not changing any of the procedures around the tee. As a spectator, you can’t get on the tee. We have enough marshals around our tees to prevent that, including a number of Army marshals.”
Indeed, the spectator ropes for the 32,000 allowed in each day, are far back from the players as you would normally see at an Open Championship. And in addressing the incident last week at the Scottish Open, Slumbers was drawn into the ugly scenes two days later at Wembley where hooligans, as you can’t call them fans, stormed their way into the European Championship Final. Asked if he was certain there would be no such breach this week:
“I think all in all getting the spectators here for us was really important,” he said. “I think there is something — I’ve talked about what I think of The Open in terms of where I want it to be positioned as a world-class sporting event, and big-time sporting events need big time crowds.
“We’ve worked really hard with the government to do that. We’re very conscious of the environment that we’re all operating in. There’s very strict conditions for any of those spectators to be able to get into the grounds, and they’re being held further back from the players than we would normally do. If you go out, you can see the ropes are further back.
“But I think spectators play a massive part in sport; no different to the Open Championship. When you wait and see what the 18th is like on Sunday afternoon when the winner is coming down, when the crowds are in the grandstand, that’s what the Open is about for us. In terms of safety, no, we’ve got plenty of security all the way around the golf course, as we would normally have.”
Listen to our Open Championship Preview Podcast