Gun-toting police to guard Tiger and Co.

Memories of Green threat recalled

Bob Warters's picture
Wed, 20 Mar 2002

Security officers with guns in their holsters will accompany every three-ball competing in this week’s $6million Players Championship in Florida, where Tiger Woods is defending his title.

It’s part of a heightening of player protection following the terrorist attacks of September 11 last year and revelations that the al-Qu’eda terrorist network had targeted a simulated golf tournament as part of their training.

The move is the biggest security crackdown since 1977, when American Hubert Green was surrounded by a swarm of police as he reached the closing stages of his US Open victory at Southern Hills.

A death threat had been received at the Oklahoma City FBI headquarters and TV cameras scanned the crowd in search of likely suspects carrying weapons.

In order to cause least alarm, this week, players have been asked if they want visible protection. If not, a plain-clothes officer will be on hand nearby, just in case.

Following the heckling that upset Colin Montgomerie on his last visit to the US at the Accenture World Matchplay in California, any spectators causing a nuisance will be marched off the Sawgrass course.

The 100,000 golf fans likely to attend the tournament, recognised as ‘the fifth major’, will be aware of the tightened security the moment they arrive in Jacksonville.

They will be divested of any personal items bigger than six inches – and that includes cameras, binoculars, collapsible seats, periscopes and more significantly, mobile telephones.

Similar steps have been taken for the US Masters at Augusta in three weeks' time, where Pinkerton security guards have always been well in evidence.

Says the Tour’s director of security Brian Goin: "The things we are doing now are things I never thought I would see. But every tournament director is watching what we do and it's important we set the standard."

It's a sad indictment of the world we live in but with golf emerging with such a high profile, every step must be taken to protect not only players, but caddies, officials and spectators from outrages that have littered our TV screens in recent months.



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