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The Open is the latest high-profile sporting occasion to be targeted by a Just Stop Oil protest.

The situation arose midway through Friday’s second round while the group of Billy Horschel, Corey Conners and Alex Noren were playing the new par-3 17th at Royal Liverpool.

Three Just Stop Oil protestors ran onto the green before being removed by police officers and marshals, with a bit of help from Horschel.

Horschel declined to speak to the media following his round, but an R&A statement said “we would like to thank the marshals, players, and other spectators for their vigilance and understanding as the protestors were removed”.

According to the Just Stop Oil website, the protestors “set off a smoke flare and threw orange powder paint on the green, before being removed by security”.

Just Stop Oil

A marshal at the 17th told bunkered that play was only stopped “for a few minutes” to clean it off.

Just Stop Oil

He added that three protestors emerged from next to the greenside grandstand and ran under the ropes. One was tackled before they had a chance to reach the green and all three were arrested immediately.

Shortly after the protest, Just Stop Oil tweeted the news.

One of the protestors, Noah Crane, an 18-year-old community coordinator from Buxton, offered his reasoning.

“I’m disrupting The Open today, not because I want to, but as a young person, I feel I have no other choice,” he said. “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.”

Another protester was named as Hailey Birch, a 19-year-old university student from Leicestershire.

A Merseyside Police statement read: “Two males and two females were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal damage and public nuisance. They will be taken into police custody to be questioned.”

Just Stop Oil, who are “demanding that the UK government halts all new oil and gas projects”, have so far this summer protested at Wimbledon, The Ashes, and the World Snooker Championship.

The R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers, in his traditional pre-Open press conference, had noted that a “senior player” had been the target for such a protest at last year’s tournament.

He added that this year they “have significant security procedures in place”, adding: “We work clearly with the law enforcement agencies, and we’ll wait and see what happens.”

The R&A had also advised players to not get involved. “I stand by that,” Slumbers said. “We have enough things in place to be able to deal with it.”

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When asked about the possibility of a protest, Jon Rahm joked: “I do have a reputation, so I hope they don’t catch me on a bad hole.”

He added: “I know they’re going for an impact. I saw a couple of them intervening in Wimbledon, and obviously this looks like it could be a perfect spot, but we have nothing to do with it.

“You don’t want to disrupt play, which they’re trying, so if it happens where I’m at, I’m obviously going to try to clean up as quickly as possible so we can resume play.”


author headshot

Alex Perry is the Associate Editor of bunkered. A journalist for more than 20 years, he has been a golf industry stalwart for the majority of his career and, in a five-year spell at ESPN, covered every sporting event you can think of. He completed his own Grand Slam at the 2023 Masters, having fallen in love with the sport at his hometown club of Okehampton and on the links of nearby Bude & North Cornwall.

Associate Editor

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