Use of camera phones a major issue at British Open

By Mark Garrod
Special to PA SportsTicker

HOYLAKE, England (Ticker) - The death of a spectator from a heart attack is one reason mobile phone cameras will probably not be banned from the British Open.

Winner Tiger Woods complained about the number of times he and playing partner Sergio Garcia were distracted in the last round on Sunday by the use of camera phones.

But David Hill, director of championships for the Royal and Ancient, said that while the situation will be examined, the incident on one of the practice days will make them think long and hard about a future ban.

An elderly man was declared dead on arrival at a hospital after collapsing on the course in 100-degree heat. The alert to rush the man to the hospital came from somebody with a mobile phone and the response team was there within two minutes.

“You have to consider that people like to have mobiles with them for matters of urgency and have needed to get medical attention quickly,” Hill said. “We have considered electronic screening. It’s a step we would prefer not to take, but if the committee feels we have got to the stage where we have to do it we will. “It would mean delays at the gates, but we will certainly be looking at it.”

Peter Dawson, the R&A’s chief executive, knows this is an issue that needs to be discussed.

“This area does concern us,” Dawson said. “I didn’t like some of what I saw, but it’s difficult under British law to confiscate things from people as they do in the United States. We need to get our thinking caps on.”

Woods was especially perturbed by the camera phones.

“We had it every hole. We’ve never seen anything like this before,” Woods said. “It wasn’t the professional photographers, it was the gallery. Cameras or camera phones kept going off while we were over the shot or preparing to hit the shot or even hitting the shot.

“It was very, very frustrating for Sergio and me. And because of all the undue delays that we’ve had with our caddies and the marshals, trying to get a situation where we can play, we got put on the clock. It wasn’t our fault. That’s just the way it was.”

Woods and Garcia arrived on the 18th hole to find it splattered with paint sprayed by a spectator breaking through the security cordon. The man was ejected without affecting play and Dawson said Monday he had no intention of giving the incident more publicity.