The second round of the Scottish Open experienced a bizarre and troubling start here when a spectator brazenly walked on to a teebox and took a club from Rory McIlroy’s bag.
As McIlroy and world No 1 Jon Rahm looked on in befuddlement, the man took a few swings before officials eventually arrived to lead him away.
Inevitably, there will be questions posed about the security at this $7 million event. This is the first time that fans have been allowed in to watch a British golf event since the pandemic took root 15 months ago. Only 4,000 have been permitted entry, which makes this incident yet more concerning.
The intruder was able simply to stroll up unchallenged to the marquee grouping – also featuring world No 3 Justin Thomas – before nonchalantly reaching in between Rahm and McIlroy as they chatted, first taking the headcover off a wood and then settling upon an iron.
McIlroy usually has at least one security guard with him, but it was unclear where the detail was on this occasion.
It occurred on the 10th tee here at the North Berwick course, from where the group began. Rahm, the favourite for next week’s Open Championship where 32,000 per day will be admitted, was seemingly unaffected, going through his first nine holes in six-under to reach 11-under and into a three-shot lead over England’s Ian Poulter, who had played seven holes. McIlroy was on three-under with nine remaining, two-under for the day.
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An onlooker told The Scotsman: "He was standing at the back of the tee and went over to Rory’s bag, took out the driver [sic] and had a couple of swings with it.
"When someone told him that he couldn’t do that, he replied by saying ‘why not?’ At that point, the security people assigned to following the group moved in and took him away."
David Wilson, a member of nearby club Kilspindie who posted the footage, added: "He was quickly dealt with. The players laughed it off, saying they knew he wasn’t a golfer when they saw his grip."