By Martyn Herman
HOYLAKE England (Reuters) - British Open organizers warned spectators about mobile phone use on Thursday after three-times champion Tiger Woods was distracted during his opening round 69 at Hoylake.
Huge galleries followed the American's every move but some could not resist taking cheeky snaps of the 38-year-old in action despite the R&A's mobile phone policy being plastered on notice boards all over the course.
Woods pleaded with fans to "keep them on silent" while organizers issued a statement calling for order.
"We are delighted to have big crowds here enjoying the golf and I know there are many fans here who are experiencing the Open for the first time," executive director of the championship Johnnie Cole-Hamilton said in a statement.
"We urge them all to keep their phones on silent and remind them that taking photographs during the championship days is not permitted."
Woods gesticulated at fans after twice being forced to back off his second shot at the 18th, before firing his ball into a green-side bunker from which he managed to get up and down to save par.
Asked about the distractions, he told reporters: "People were taking pictures. We had it all day today.
"There were a lot of cameras out there. We were backing off a lot of shots and a lot of people were moving around.
"It was tough. I've had numerous years of dealing with this. There's a lot of moving parts out there. You've just got to stay focused and plod my way around.
"Unfortunately people just don't put their phones on silent or some of the professionals guys were getting on the trigger a little early," he added.
This year's Open features a complimentary wifi network covering every corner of the course, allowing fans to keep tabs on what is happening around the course on their smartphone screens and continue using sites such as Twitter.
"I think that is a massive step forward in golf spectating," R&A chief Peter Dawson said on Wednesday.
"However, the issue of how responsibly that is used is very important. I'm very confident that the golf fans will understand that they mustn't disturb the players in front of them."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)