'Very credible threat' made to top player in 150th Open at St Andrews
The shock revelation emerged as R&A CEO Martin Slumbers talked about the possibility of this week’s event at Royal Liverpool being disrupted by Just Stop Oil protesters.
Speaking in a press conference at the Hoylake venue, Slumbers said: “We've had no direct intelligence. There was direct intelligence last year and most people in this room don't know that The Open was targeted last year
“We had a very credible threat that was 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. That's all I really want to say.”
It is understood that no specific target was identified, but the threat was taken seriously, with security being stepped up to help ensure the milestone event passed without incident.
Already this year, Just Stop Oil protestors have disrupted the World Snooker Championship, Grand National, British Grand Prix and, most recently, Wimbledon.
“We have significant security procedures in place,” said Slumbers of the possibility of the season’s final major being the latest target. “We work clearly with the law enforcement agencies, and we'll wait and see what happens.
“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. Beyond that, I think security matters I need to keep confidential, but I assure there's enough sentiment in what I have just said.”
Earlier in the week, Masters champion Jon Rahm was asked if he’d be tempted to intervene, as England cricket player Jonny Bairstow did by carrying a protestor off the Lord’s pitch in the Second Ashes Test, if play is disrupted on Merseyside this week.
“Well, I don't know. I do have a reputation (of having a temper), so I hope they don't catch me on a bad hole,” said the Spaniard, laughing. “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.”
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