‘I was scared for my life’: Chaos disrupts Travelers Championship decisive moments

Climate change protestors are arrested at the Travelers.

The finish of the Travelers Championship was thrown into chaos.

James Gilbert/Getty Images

In what already has been a bizarre year for golf news — especially news involving the World No. 1 and police intervention — things got even weirder Sunday at the conclusion of the Travelers Championship.

As the final group of Scottie Scheffler, Tom Kim and Akshay Bhatia approached the 18th green during the final round at TPC River Highlands, with Scheffler leading Kim by a stroke, five environmental activists emerged from the crowd and stormed the green, spraying a colored powder or paint substance on the putting surface.

Play was suspended for several minutes as authorities apprehended the protesters, who represented the climate activism group, Extinction Rebellion.

“I mean, I was scared for my life. I didn’t even really know what was happening,” Bhatia said after the round. “I was in shock and my heart rate was high. It got low and then once that kind of happened I was just freaked out, I just tried get over where everyone was.”

The craziness started as Scheffler was beginning to size up a 27-foot birdie putt that would have put the tournament out of reach for Kim. The first protester ran out from the crowd and into the front right greenside bunker. Kim himself had a 10-footer after a clutch approach to potentially force a playoff.

“It kind of took like the meaning of the putt kind of a way for a second,” Kim said. “Because like for the past 17 and a half holes all you’re thinking about is golf, and suddenly when that happens you’re just like, your mind goes into a complete, like, you’re almost not even playing golf anymore, like people are, security guards — like I thought it was a dream for a second.”

Scheffler started walking back toward Kim — both of whom looked bewildered — as the first protester descended on the green carrying smoke canisters. A can of red paint or power was tossed onto the green just a few feet from the hole location.

“They just came flying down the hill out of the gallery,” Jim Nantz said on the CBS broadcast.

Police lead away a protestor at the Travelers Championship.
A protester is lead away by the Cromwell Police. James Gilbert/Getty Images

The Cromwell Police Department quickly apprehended the five protesters, of whom four were wearing shirts that read “No golf on a dead planet.” They were led away in handcuffs as the crowd in the amphitheater-like setting around the 18th green started chanting obscenities, forcing CBS to briefly cut the audio feed.

Extinction Rebellion claimed responsibility for the protest in a press release sent after the tournament had concluded. The same group had protested outside the gates of the DP World Tour’s KLM Open Sunday in the Netherlands, delaying the final round there by two hours.

Once the scene was under control, Scheffler, Bhatia and Kim exchanged a few smiles. The crowd erupted into chants of “USA! USA! USA!”

Despite all the chaos, the 18th green was not damaged aside from paint and powder.

In all, it took less than two minutes for the protesters to be cleared from the green, but PGA Tour officials and the TPC River Highlands maintenance staff were called in to address how to finish off play.

Scottie Scheffler
After a chaotic protest on 18th green, Scottie Scheffler wins Travelers
By: Nick Piastowski

Workers cleaned off the green as best as they could, but white powder sat directly between Bhatia’s ball and the cup. Under Rule 16, Bhatia was given relief from the abnormal course condition and moved his ball a few feet to the left before he two-putted for par to finish the tournament at 18 under.

Scheffler missed his birdie putt while Kim made his to force a playoff, with both finishing at 22 under.

“Who prepares for someone, for four people to run with — I don’t know what they had, but they left a lot of marks on the greens, which is not right for us players, especially when two guys are trying to win a golf tournament,” Kim said. “But I’m very grateful for the Tour and the Tour security for handling that really well and making us players feel a lot safer.”

With the red paint was still visible next to the original hole location, Tour officials and course maintenance staff decided to cut a new hole for the playoff.

The hole was moved to the front left part of the green and Kim and Scheffler were given a chance to inspect it before riding out to the tee for a playoff.

Scheffler made par to win the playoff after Kim had knocked his second in the greenside bunker and made bogey. It was Scheffler’s sixth victory of the season and 12th of his PGA Tour career, but certainly none ended like this.

Jack Hirsh

Golf.com Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at jack.hirsh@golf.com.



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