R&A’s Peter Dawson to Tiger Woods: There’s nowhere to hide at the British Open
The R&A’s big announcement on Tuesday was supposed to be the unveiling of some major changes to the 17th hole, also known as the Road Hole, at St. Andrews’ famed Old Course. But you wouldn’t have known it from comments coming from R&A’s chief executive, Peter Dawson.
Just like Billy Payne did during his Masters press conference, Dawson made it a point to discuss Tiger Woods, pre- and post-scandal, as well as the security measures that will be put into place when Woods makes his way to the Old Course for this year’s British Open.
As opposed to August National’s ultra-tight security, Dawson will forgo the same route and keep the tournament as-is. What does that mean? It means Dawson is fine with people saying whatever “they like” to the game’s number one player. This should be fun.
“As long as it’s not intrusive to the game or the championship, then people can say what they like,” Dawson said at Tuesday’s new conference. “We’re not a police state here. But if they (the galleries) start putting players off, then we’ll have something to say about that.”
Police state or not, the Brits have always been known to speak their mind. Don’t believe me? Try going to a Premier League football match and listening to the chants that rain down on the players. While I have no doubt golf spectators are a little more courteous, there’s no reason a casual golf fan could show and speak his mind at the tournament.
Quite honestly, it’s bound to happen. Augusta National was able to keep a lid on things by running the event, as Dawson put it, as a “police state”. Any comments not deemed appropriate were grounds for dismissal. And that means a lifetime ban from the tournament and club.
It’s not the same at the British Open, an event that changes venues and doesn’t have a strict policy on tickets during the week (read: being a little more boisterous and brash won’t get you a lifetime ban). Officials are predicting weekly crowds of 200,000 at the Open this year.
So here we go, Tiger. If you thought everyone was behind you at Augusta, just wait until you get to the British Open. While things will have probably calmed down by then, there’s a pretty good chance he’ll hear a couple of choice words during his rounds.
Here’s hoping he has the Buddhist calm in full force at the third major of the year. He may need it.