Golf: Protective authorities take no chances: Security firm hired to guard US Open players and spectators from harm

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IT'S not quite as secure as Fort Knox but the 93rd US Open Championship which starts at Baltusrol tomorrow is crawling with surveillance. The United States Golf Association, in response to the bombing of the World Trade Centre in New York and the stabbing of Monica Seles, has hired a security force to oversee the tournament.

The Professional Security Bureau is providing 150 men and women, plainclothes and

uniformed and, of course, armed, to patrol Baltusrol 24 hours a day. This is in addition to the FBI and state, county and local police. 'People are concerned for their well-being and we are here to protect them,' Doug Goode, a licensed private detective in New Jersey and a vice-president of the company, said. Goode is co-ordinating the efforts to ensure the safety of 156 players and 30,000 spectators.

'In sports like tennis and golf you don't anticipate death threats or violent activity,' Goode said, 'but after what happened with Seles safety awareness has been heightened. The players must be able to move around freely and feel safe. There will be a day in the near future when metal detectors will be used to check spectators. It will be just like going to the airport.' If it will be like that the authorities can expect considerably reduced crowds.

There is another reason why the USGA has invested in extra security: the raucous natives. When the US Open was last held near New York, at Shinnecock Hills in 1986, Greg Norman was dogged by several spectators. 'Choker' was one of the nicer expressions they called out.

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