TRANSGENDER woman golfer Alison Perkins suffered ‘vile abuse’ while giving lessons at The Open and had to leave as a result.
The R&A and the PGA have leapt to her defence after the troubling incident.
Perkins was at Royal St George’s for most of the week giving lessons to fans in the spectator village.
But she was then targeted at the end of one shift as she was leaving the Kent course.
Perkins returned to work at the Swingzone the following morning but was still affected by the incident.
As a result, she took the decision to cut her time at The Open short and head home.
Speaking after her early departure, Perkins told the Telegraph: “Yes, it has hurt and caused much distress.
“It only takes a few in thousands to do harm and it can take me a while to recover from this sort of thing.
“However, I like to draw on the good and not the bad. I will fight and be back at some point.
“For now, I just hope folk enjoy the Open. I am about portraying the positive in my life.
“What goes around comes around. I have many battles in life. Some I choose to fight, others are not worth it. The end goal is more important to me.
“These people just don’t understand, know the facts or realise how much they can affect someone’s life.
“I did think about quitting golf yesterday but, hey, it’s what I love, so don’t let them win.”
She also wrote on Twitter: “The sun has set early on my Open.
“I enjoyed my last day, walking round watching the golf and the PGA Swingzone. Sad to leave early but was the right decision for me, reflecting at home.
“I will hopefully come back stronger one day. It’s a tough journey I am on, trying to take the positives from the week not the negatives.”
A spokesman for The R&A said: “Alison is a valued member of the PGA’s Swingzone team and we are deeply disturbed to have learned of the incident earlier this week.
“We will be reaching out to Alison to offer our support and make it clear she is most welcome at The Open in future.
“We strongly believe that golf should be open to all and deplore any kind of discriminatory behaviour.”
A PGA statement read: “This is a very distressing incident and Alison has our full support at this difficult time.
“Alison has been an integral member of the Swingzone team delivering free golf lessons to the general public at The Open and has contributed a huge amount to its success this year as well as in previous years.
“She is a highly skilled and dedicated coach and is respected and admired by her colleagues and golfers alike.
“The well-being of our members is our primary focus and we will continue to support Alison.
“We enjoy a diverse membership of more than 8,000 PGA Professionals, who should all be free to work without fear of discrimination or prejudice.”