A crowd of 16,228 took in the opening day of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in Lahinch, although a handful of them were escorted off the premises.
Members of Extinction Rebellion Clare interrupted play towards the end of the round with the group containing Shane Lowry, Tommy Fleetwood, and Russell Knox, unfurling a banner with a message bearing the words ‘Game Over: Climate Action Now!’
The three-ball had attracted perhaps the biggest gallery of the day and the numbers looking on were only swelled by those who had set up shop on the final hole, thus making it the perfect spot and time for the protest.
Extinction Rebellion was founded late last year in response to what it has termed as an “unprecedented global emergency” and a period of abrupt climate breakdown of human kind’s making.
Protests in the UK, where the movement was founded, have seen numerous prominent London landmarks occupied by peaceful means, among them Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus, Marble Arch, Parliament Square, and Waterloo Bridge.
A spokesperson for the European Tour confirmed yesterday that the protesters here were “removed from the site” as a result of their actions which were booed by a section of the crowd.
The crowd for yesterday’s opening day was up considerably on the corresponding number for Ballyliffin last year when 13,716 turned out, and on the 2016 figure of 12,834 at the K Club, although 17,763 were recorded for day one in Portstewart in 2017.
Mike Lorenzo-Vera didn’t exactly see the atmosphere at its best.
The Frenchman was part of a group including Korea’s Hyowon Park and Niklas Lemke that started their round at the ungodly hour of 7.05am but he was nonetheless appreciative of the local input.
“It’s so good to play in Ireland. All the (fans) know the game really well and they know that sometimes the ball is 15 metres from the pin, but you can’t do better than that, so they clap. They know the game and it’s really nice to play next to them.”