Protestors make their way onto the 17th green during the final round of the Women’s Open at Walton Heath Golf Club in Tadworth, England. Andrew Redington/Getty Images CNN —
English golfer Charley Hull has criticized protestors who interrupted the final round of the Women’s Open on Sunday.
Lilia Vu lifts the AIG Women’s Open Trophy at the Walton Heath Golf Club in Tadworth, England. Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Home favorite Hull was playing the 17th hole of the major at Walton Heath Golf Club in Tadworth, England, with soon-to-be-crowned champion Lilia Vu when protestors carrying red and yellow flares made their way onto the green.
Five people were arrested for aggravated trespass, Surrey Police said in a statement. The police added that they believed the individuals belonged to the group Ekō, which describes itself as a “global movement … committed to curbing the growing power of corporations.”
Ahead of the final round Sunday, Ekō posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, criticizing the event’s title sponsor, American insurance company AIG. In a video titled “Let’s Crash AIG Women’s Open,” Ekō called on users to tweet at AIG to protest the construction of the “disastrous” East African crude oil pipeline (EACOP).
The video alleged AIG has not yet ruled out involvement in EACOP, a project set to cost $3.5 billion dollars, according to Reuters, which will transport oil from Uganda to a port across the border in Tanzania for export.
However, Money Rebellion, a branch of climate activist group Extinction Rebellion, claimed responsibility on X on Sunday, tagging AIG in the post. A spokesperson for Ekō told CNN on Monday that the group was not involved in the protest at the tournament.
CNN has reached out to AIG and golfer Hull for comment.
Protestors are led away by police. Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Hull, who finished as runner-up six shots behind American Vu, labeled the protestors “a bunch of idiots” in an interview with English newspaper the Telegraph.
“I suffer from asthma, but didn’t have my inhaler on me and that stuff was really thick, so no, it was not nice,” the 27-year-old said.
“I wasn’t scared when it happened, just thought they were idiots. Someone said they are protesting about oil, but how did they get here today? Drove probably.”
Also speaking to the Telegraph, Hull’s caddie Adam Woodward described the protestors as “morons.”
“There were about three of them, I think, but it was ineffective,” Woodward said. “The police were quick and they were gone within 60 seconds.”
In response to Hull’s comments, Money Rebellion spokesperson Matt Taylor told CNN: “AIG continues to enable deadly fossil fuel projects, while climate breakdown is killing millions of people across the world.”
It marks the latest disruption by climate protestors at English sporting events this year, after Just Stop Oil protestors targeted the men’s edition of the Open in July.
Many major banks and insurers have pulled out of funding for the pipeline, which is a joint venture between France’s Total and the Chinese state oil giant Cnooc, according to the Financial Times. A coalition formed to stop the pipeline says AIG declined to provide a response as to whether it would underwrite the project.
Hull had begun the final round level with Vu but could not keep pace as the 25-year-old American tore away, holing six birdies to finish the day at 14-under par and seal her second major championship of 2023 after triumph at the Chevron Championship in April.
World No. 16 Hull had cut the lead to three with a remarkable eagle shot from an 11th hole bunker, but Vu quickly pulled away to resign the Englishwoman to yet another painful major near-miss.
Hull’s wait for a first career major continues. Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Having finished three shots adrift of Allisen Corpuz at the US Women’s Open in July, she has now recorded runner-up performances at three of the five flagship events, and at least tied-seventh at the other two.
“I feel a bit deflated,” Hull told Sky Sports.
“I don’t feel like anything went my way today. I feel like I actually played quite solid, just didn’t really hole many putts.
“Truthfully, I want to be with my coach at 10 o’clock tomorrow and I want to work on a load of stuff.
“I feel that I have come close twice in the two biggest majors, the US Open and the Women’s Open, so I really feel like next year is my time to win one.”