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Rory McIlroy can rest easy.

The chances of any spectators wandering onto the tee and helping themselves to one his clubs this week are remote to nil, with the R&A calling on reinforcements to help maintain order at this week’s Open.

McIlroy, 32, was left bemused and bewildered when a drunken fan walked onto the tee ahead of his second round during last week’s Scottish Open.

The individual took one of the Northern Irishman’s clubs from his bag and appeared to tee up McIlroy’s headcover before being escorted off the grounds. 

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That, coupled with the disgraceful scenes both inside and outside Wembley Stadium during last weekend’s EURO 2020 final, has once again raised the issue of player safety and welfare. 

As far as this week’s Open goes, the R&A insists it is taking every precaution – and then some.

“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 Martin Slumbers, the chief executive of the R&A. 

“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. 

“We’ve got plenty of security all the way around the golf course, as we would normally have.”

In spite of ongoing COVID-19 restrictions across the UK, up to 32,000 spectators will be allowed to attend this week’s championship on each of the four competitive days. That, says Slumbers, is both a privilege and a responsibility.

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“We’re very conscious of the environment that we’re all operating in,” he added. “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.


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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