Let’s face it, golf clubs are expensive, particularly the kind the professionals use. So when someone wanders onto the first tee at the Scottish Open and helps himself to one, you can almost understand.
Kidding, of course.
In all seriousness, the brash act and breach of security might serve as a call to security arms in some corners. But those supervising the British Open at Royal St. George’s Golf Club this week say no such reminder is needed.
“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, chief executive of the governing body involved, the Royal & Ancient.
During the incident at the Scottish Open, the offending fan was said to traverse some 30 feet undetected before strolling onto the tee. The man tried to take Rory McIlroy’s driver, but couldn’t extract it from the bag. He settled for an iron and head cover. He then feigned making a swing, before being confronted.
As he tried to walk off with the head cover, he was confronted by security and escorted off.
The playing group, which included Jon Rahm, watched the incident with dismay before carrying on. McIlroy didn’t take well to the disruption, shooting a 71 and missing the cut at The Renaissance Club.
The British Open is expecting 32,000 in attendance at Royal St. George's. But Slumbers emphasized there is no way such an incident can happen.
“As a spectator, you can't get on the tee," Slumbers said. "We have enough marshals around our tees to prevent that, including a number of army marshals."
And where McIlroy is concerned, missing a cut the week before a major championship might not be the worst thing. Eight of the last nine times McIlroy has jettisoned tournaments prematurely, he has finished top 20 in his next start.
On three such occasions, he has won, including earlier this year when he missed the weekend at the Masters and won his next start at Quail Hollow.
“I've been able to do that in the past,” McIlroy, 32, said. “I missed the cut at Memorial a couple years ago, went down and won the (2019) Canadian Open the next week. Yeah, missed the cut at the Masters and then went and my next start was Quail Hollow, and I won.
“Golf always just gives you another opportunity to go out and play well and to see if you've learned from your mistakes, and I've always made it a priority in my career to really try to learn from my mistakes.”
As for the misguided fan, well, hard to say if he will learn from his club-grabbing behavior. After the incident, Rahm suggested the offender might have had some extra encouragement.
"Let me put it this way: you could smell the reason why he did what he did," Rahm said, according to the Scotsman. “He was clearly not sober. I'm going to say it was vodka. I'm no expert, but he had a long night for sure.”
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