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Tiger Woods
Open Championship officials aren't expecting a big problem, but are taking extra precautions just in case. (Getty Images)

Open fans face ejection for taunting Tiger (or anyone else), R&A says

The Royal & Ancient has stepped up its security program for St. Andrews, and officials say they will throw out any gallery members who attempt to aggressively heckle Tiger Woods or any other players during the Open in July.

LONDON (PA Sport) -- Any attempts to put Tiger Woods off at the Open Championship in July will result in people being ejected.

Having said that he was "absolutely certain" that Woods will be present -- he has another month to enter -- Royal and Ancient Club Chief Executive Peter Dawson was pressed on what happens to spectators expressing their opinions about the world No. 1's sex scandal.

Final discussions with police over the security level required have still to take place, but Dawson commented: "We are not in a police state and people can say what they like, but if they start putting players off we have to take steps.

"They will be asked to stop, and if they don't stop they will be asked to leave."

Woods was generally welcomed back at the Masters, and strict security there meant there was no barracking.

Dawson isn't expecting a big problem because Woods, who at Augusta National ended a five-month break from the game, will have played a few more events by then. But he did add: "I could be wrong."

Dawson and Michael Brown, chairman of the championship committee, have chosen not to criticize Woods in the way that the Augusta National chairman did on the eve of their tournament.

"Because it was the first event back, Billy Payne had a decision to make and having made that decision I thought he did it well. It was very measured and well-crafted," said Dawson. "I hope the game can put it (the expose of Woods' long string of affairs) behind us.

"It came as a great shock. I did describe myself as Tiger's biggest fan and I'm not going to get into his personal life," Dawson added. "I just think it's very sad that what has happened has happened and I am sure he is, too."

Woods' on-course behavior came under the microscope, too, and, having vowed to try to improve that, there were still some displays of temper as he finished fourth behind Phil Mickelson at the Masters.

Dawson noted that the American's demeanor had "clearly deteriorated" prior to the revelations late last year, and added: "I am sure that when he looked at the pictures he was not happy with it, either. But it's difficult to understand how much a player of his level has to psyche himself up."

Assuming he does enter, Woods will be trying for an unprecedented third successive victory at St. Andrews, where crowds well in excess of 200,000 over the week are expected.

Even though he missed the cut last year, he will be a red-hot favorite however well he plays in North Carolina this week, the Players Championship in Florida next week or the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in June.

That is because he strode majestically to an eight-shot win in 2000 and then beat Colin Montgomerie by five in 2005.

 

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