R&A to focus on phone cameras after complaints
Tuesday 25 July 2006
The death of a spectator because of a heart attack is one reason why mobile phone cameras will probably not be banned from the Open Championship.
The victorious Tiger Woods complained about the number of times he or his playing partner, Sergio Garcia, were distracted in the final round at Hoylake on Sunday. But David Hill, director of championships for the Royal & Ancient, said that while the situation will be examined, the death on one of the practice days will make them think long and hard about a phone ban.
An elderly man collapsed on the course in the 30C heat and Hill said: "The alert came from a somebody carrying 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.
"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, said: "This area does concern us. I did not like some of what I saw, but it is 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 said of the disturbances: "We had it every hole. We've never seen anything like this before. It was not 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 green to find it peppered with powder thrown by a spectator breaking through the security cordon. The man was ejected without affecting play and Dawson said yesterday he had no intention of giving the incident the "oxygen of publicity".
John Paramor, the European Tour chief referee, said of the camera issue: "It did cause problems. We pleaded with people and a few of them responded, but we are going to have to try to discourage spectators using them in future. We need to make them realise that the professional photographers take better pictures and it is better to get one of their shots from a magazine or newspaper than one of their own stupid out-of-focus ones."
Annika Sorenstam, meanwhile, said Woods' 11th major win had given her an extra spur for next week's female version at Royal Lytham. The Swede said she had watched every shot on television of Woods' emotional triumph. "We are good friends but we have a serious rivalry," she said. Sorenstam has won 10 women's majors. "He texted me during my victory in the US Open earlier in the month and I'll be texting my congratulations to him, too."
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