Open fans allowed to use cell phones

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LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -- Tiger Woods' last win at the Open Championship was well-documented -- not just on television and print or even history books, but through thousands of cellphones used to take pictures at Royal Liverpool in 2006.

The Royal & Ancient was furious at the number of pictures that were taken because of the distraction to Woods, Sergio Garcia and just about every shot.

This is the mobile era, and the R&A has joined the ranks of tournaments that now allow mobile phones. Several signs across Royal Lytham & St. Annes tell spectators that phones are to remain on silent and no photos are allowed.

R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said he was more curious than nervous about how it will work when the Open begins Thursday.

"We banned mobile phones after the '06 Open with a pretty heavy heart, actually, because we do know that they're very useful tools for many people who have become entirely accustomed to having them alongside themselves," Dawson said. "But we did have the bad experience at Hoylake, and that's what caused it. Now we're reversing that policy in as controlled a manner as we are able.

"And I'm very hopeful that the great British public will respond and give consideration for the players."

Dawson said if the policy fails, the R&A would decide whether to allow them again. But all indications are phones are here to stay.

The R&A is going mobile to enhance the experience for spectators on and off the golf course. Various applications allow fans to watch BBC's domestic coverage, and eventually, spectators in the grandstands might be able to watch the Open on mobile devices, which would allow them to keep track of what's going on beyond a leaderboard.