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“What a bunch of idiots.”

That’s how runner-up Charley Hull described protestors who disrupted the final stages of the AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath.

At least two people – a man and a woman – ran onto the 17th green at Walton Heath as Hull and eventual winner Lilia Vu approached the putting surface.

One set off smoke flares, sending thick red and yellow plumes billowing through the air, whilst another held up a sign apparently in protest at the tournament’s title sponsor.

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The stunt briefly interrupted the championship, with the protestors quickly apprehended by police.

The climate change action group Extinction Rebellion subsequently claimed responsibility for the protest on social media.

Hull, who finished second to playing partner Vu, later revealed how dangerous the protest could have been for her.

“I suffer from asthma but didn’t have my inhaler on me and that stuff was really thick, so no it was not nice,” she told The Telegraph. “I wasn’t scared when it happened, just thought they were idiots.

“Someone said they are protesting about oil, but how did they get here today? Drove probably.”

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In a short statement, tournament organisers the R&A said: “Protesters were quickly apprehended on the 17th green during the final group and five arrests were made by the police.

“We would like to thank the police and marshals for their vigilance and the players and spectators for their understanding.”

Extinction Rebellion is just the latest protest targeting a high-profile sporting event in the UK this year.

Another group, Just Stop Oil, targeted the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool last month, having previously staged demonstrations at the snooker World Championship in Sheffield in April, the Ashes in June, and Wimbledon in July.

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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