Four people have been arrested after Just Stop Oil protesters invaded the 17th hole at the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.
American golfer Billy Horschel intervened and helped escort a woman wearing a Just Stop Oil T-shirt covered in orange paint off the green of the Hoylake links and into the custody of a police officer.
Another woman and two men, wearing similar T-shirts, were also handcuffed and marched off the course by several police officers.
Merseyside Police confirmed four people had been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal damage and public nuisance.
“At around 12.20pm Just Stop Oil supporters ran onto hole 17 at The Open in Royal Liverpool,” read a Just Stop Oil statement.
“They set off a smoke flare and threw orange powder paint on the green before being removed by security.”
Greenkeeping staff were dispatched to the hole and removed the powdered paint with leaf-blowers.
Merseyside Police said while it respected the rights of people to protest, disorder would not be tolerated.
“A small amount of powder was discarded onto the playing surface and it was reported that one person had a smoke pyrotechnic,” read a police statement.
“Two males and two females were quickly detained by both stewards and officers and they were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal damage and public nuisance. They will be taken into police custody to be questioned.
“Merseyside Police respects the right to protest and expression of views but anti-social, criminal behaviour or disorder will not be tolerated and will be dealt with robustly.
“Police and The R&A management will be looking to ensure the activities of anyone who wants to protest don’t disrupt the event itself and if necessary we will use relevant legislation to deal with those people involved in it.
“Contingency plans are in place to help visitors enjoy these events in safety and with minimal disruption.”
The environmental group have targeted a number of high-profile sporting events this summer, including the second Ashes Test at Lords – where England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow physically manhandled one pitch invader to the boundary – and Wimbledon, where three people ran onto the court throwing orange paper and jigsaw pieces.
Open organisers were prepared for a protest and stressed they had put in extra security precautions.
They did advise players not to engage with anyone who entered the course but Horschel decided against that.
This week the R&A golf museum revealed it had received a credible threat regarding Just Stop Oil protesters targeting last year’s Open at St Andrews but any action failed to materialise after security was stepped up.
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