Environmental activists briefly disrupt British Open by dumping orange powder beside 17th green

HOYLAKE, England (AP) — Environmental activists briefly interrupted play at the British Open on Friday by throwing orange powder beside the 17th green at Royal Liverpool, prompting American player Billy Horschel to intervene.

Police and security guards quickly took action to keep the Just Stop Oil protesters from causing a bigger disruption during the second round. Play resumed not long after the protesters were removed.

Horschel was playing the hole at the time and helped a greenside marshal lead one of the protesters away. The other players at the 17th were Corey Conners and Alex Noren. They were marking their balls and getting ready to hit their second shots when the disruption started. All three players made par on the hole.

The affected area was cleaned up before the next group hit their tee shots.

“They mentioned it to us when we were on 15, 16-ish,” said Zach Johnson, who was playing two groups behind. “They said there might be a slight delay. I couldn’t quite understand what they were saying, but they just said there might be a delay on 17.”.

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Just Stop Oil wants the British government to stop new oil, gas and coal projects. It has interrupted a slew of major sporting events in Britain, including Wimbledon, an Ashes cricket test and the world snooker championship.

The protesters entered from each side of the elevated green that sits with the Irish Sea in the background. One of them had a flare, police said.

Two protesters were immediately taken away from the green, while two others were escorted away separately.

Local police said in a statement that two men and two women were detained “on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal damage and public nuisance.”.

British Open organizers said before the tournament they were aware of the possibility of protesters trying to disrupt the Open and had “significant security procedures in place.” They advised players not to get involved.

The 17th hole attracted most of the attention ahead of the Open after being redesigned to add drama to the tournament. It is listed at only 136 yards but its elevated green challenges players with steep slopes and deep bunkers.

Before the protest, Australian Travis Smyth aced the hole with a high 9-iron tee shot that bounced twice before going into the cup.

The British Open started on Thursday and is scheduled to finish on Sunday.

AP Sports Writer Steve Douglas contributed to this report.

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