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R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers has revealed a “senior player” was targeted by an environmental activist at last year’s Open Championship.

The organisers behind golf’s oldest major are on high alert this week at Hoylake with Just Stop Oil protests disrupting big sporting events this summer, including Wimbledon and the Ashes.

More than 260,000 fans are set to flood through the gates of Royal Liverpool this week, and Merseyside Police have stepped up security efforts in a hope to avoid similar disturbance during the final men’s major of the season.

• McIlroy pulls out of Open press conference

• Rahm throws support behind Monahan

Golfers teeing it up on the Wirral links, as well as their caddies, have been advised not to take matters into their own hands if interrupted during play, with each receiving a letter not to tackle possible protestors, after cricketer Jonny Bairstow carried one from the Lords pitch during a recent Ashes Test.

“We’ve had no direct intelligence,” Slumbers told reporters on Wednesday when asked about the Just Stop Oil group, who have so far this year protested at a number of high-profile sporting occasions.

“I think you’re aware that there was direct intelligence last year, and most people in this room don’t know that The Open was targeted last year.

“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.”

When pressed on the specific threat at St Andrews in 2022, Slumbers added: “We had a very credible threat that came through reported to us through a journalist that’s in this room who very kindly and responsibly informed us that one of the most senior players in the field was going to be targeted by an environmental activist.”

• The Open: When ‘Terrible Tom’ tamed Troon

• Ivor Robson: I miss the Open enormously

Jon Rahm admitted in his own press conference on Tuesday that the event “looks like it could be a perfect spot” for protesters with so many fans in attendance on Merseyside.

The Spaniard jokingly warned protestors that they could be in his firing line during tournament play.

“I do have a reputation, so I hope they don’t catch me on a bad hole,” Rahm said. “I’ve seen a couple of those things. I know they’re going for an impact.”

However, fans are being warned to prepare for extensive checks upon their arrival at the course as the authorities do all they can to minimise disruption this week.

• Start your day with bunkered’s Open Commute podcast


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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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