British Open 2023: Billy Horschel helps handle protestor at Royal Liverpool

July 21, 2023

Billy Horschel won't make the cut at the Open Championship, but before leaving Royal Liverpool he also helped escort someone else from the premises.

Horschel's second round was briefly interrupted by a group of Just Stop Oil protestors while he was playing the 17th hole. A photo and video capturing the situation shows the PGA Tour star holding on to one of the protestors in an effort to deliver the person to police. Have a look:

While the scene was unusual, it wasn't entirely unexpected. Players and caddies were put on high security alert on the eve of the tournament and warned about Just Stop Oil, a collection of demonstrators attempting to force the British government to end fossil-fuel licensing and production. The group has been popping up at sporting events, including Wimbledon and the World Snooker Championship.

And on Wednesday, R&A Chief Executive Martin Slumbers revealed a 'senior player' was targeted during last year's Open Championship at St. Andrews.

"Most people in this room don't know that The Open was targeted last year," Slumbers said, adding later that "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."

As for Horschel, 36, he didn't seem fazed by the incident as he parred 17 before a closing bogey to shoot 75 and finish at six over through two days. But overall, his well-documented struggles on the course continued. The seven-time PGA Tour winner missed his fifth cut in his past eight starts and is still without a stroke-play top 10 in 2023.

UPDATE: As NBC Sports' Mike Tirico informed viewers on the USA broadcast, the protestors poured some orange starch and confetti on the 17th hole, but "did not do any permanent damage." The network showed grounds crew using a leaf blower to move the debris away. 

Local police later announced they arrested four people. “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,” the statement read. 

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Is it the British Open or the Open Championship? The name of the final men’s major of the golf season is a subject of continued discussion. The event’s official name, as explained in this op-ed by former R&A chairman Ian Pattinson, is the Open Championship. But since many United States golf fans continue to refer to it as the British Open, and search news around the event accordingly, Golf Digest continues to utilize both names in its coverage.

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