Sports

Six years in the past it was nonetheless men-only — now Muirfield hosts the Girls’s Open for first time

It has been an extended wait that seemed set to be extended in Might 2016 when the privately owned membership’s members — The Honorable Firm of Edinburgh Golfers — voted towards overturning its male-only membership coverage. Established in 1744 at Leith in Edinburgh, the membership moved to the East Lothian website in 1891.
The results of that vote was labeled “obscene” by four-time main champion Rory McIlroy and “indefensible” by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and the Royal and Historical (R&A) — organizers of the Open — promptly banned the course from internet hosting the key.
Nonetheless, Muirfield was reinstated as an Open venue in March the next yr after a recent poll noticed the membership vote 80.2% in favor of accepting feminine members, attaining the two-thirds majority wanted to overturn the 2016 vote.

5 years on, the course opens its doorways for the fifth and closing main of the ladies’s season, a lot to the delight of the individuals.

It's a family affair for two-time major champion Brooke Henderson

It will likely be a particular type of pleasure for Scottish golfer Catriona Matthew who, past having the chance to expertise a serious only a quick drive from residence, will go down in historical past as the primary lady to tee off at Muirfield in a Girls’s Open.

“It is an enormous honor while you’re requested to do one thing like that,” Matthew, Open champion at Royal Lytham in 2009, advised reporters Tuesday.

“I believe it will be an ideal expertise … all of the gamers may have watched the boys play right here through the years and I believe they’re delighted to have that chance to come back right here and play their very own Open.

“That simply elevates this championship, and we at the moment are going to programs that individuals are used to seeing The Open and the majors on. I believe it is good for us.”

Matthew holds the trophy aloft following her Open victory at Royal Lytham St Annes Golf Club, England in 2009.

The 52-year-old admitted she was “upset” with the preliminary vote to keep up male-only membership, however believes the reversal confirmed progress is being made.

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“You simply should look ahead fairly than look backwards,” Matthews added. “Golf, beginning in Scotland, we had much more traditions maybe, that we’re simply steadily shifting with the instances.

“Hopefully any ladies or boys who’re {golfing}, they’ll see each the boys and the ladies enjoying the identical golf programs, which is sweet.”

Lioness classes

Anna Nordqvist arrives in East Lothian because the defending Open champion, having clinched a one-stroke victory at Carnoustie final yr. Together with her first main look coming as an newbie on the occasion in 2007, the triumph consolidated a “particular” connection between the three-time major-winning Swede and the Open.

“I’ve heard lots about Muirfield,” Nordqvist mentioned. “I do know the blokes have performed right here through the years, so I believe it is a tremendous alternative for us to have Muirfield added to our Open rotation.

“Coming in by the gate, (I) noticed my image — it is the primary image you see — clearly it nonetheless feels fairly surreal to have my title on the trophy,” she added.

Nordqvist poses with the Open trophy after victory at Carnoustie in Scotland, 2021.
A historic Open at Muirfield marks the continuation of a landmark week for girls’s sport, following England’s footballing Lionesses’ first ever worldwide championship win on Sunday, watched by a Euro closing document crowd at Wembley Stadium.

Regardless of the ache of seeing Sweden routed 4-0 within the semi-final by the eventual champions, Nordqvist sees parallels within the elevated protection of ladies’s soccer and golf.

“It is simply thrilling to see that I believe ladies’s sport (all) over the world is getting extra consideration,” she mentioned.

“It was fairly a giant occasion, the best way they have been internet hosting it and the TV instances, I believe that is crucial. Our tee instances are getting higher, too. Lots of instances, we tee off early as a result of (of) … the blokes’ schedule.”

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‘Recharged’

Whereas Nordqvist tees off as reigning champion, Brooke Henderson begins as arguably the shape participant.

Together with her second main victory on the Evian Championship in July, the Canadian made it two Tour wins in simply over a month. The 24-year-old has completed no decrease than sixteenth in any of her earlier 5 occasions.

After withdrawing from the Scottish Open, gained by Japan’s Ayaka Furue on Sunday, Henderson is “recharged” and raring to go.

Brooke Henderson center, celebrates after winning the Evian Championship.

“To be enjoying this yr, it actually means lots to all of us,” she mentioned. “It is simply proof that the ladies’s sport is continuous to develop — the purse sizes are rising, we’re on community TV extra, and we’re enjoying these higher venues.

“It is only a actually enjoyable time to be part of ladies’s golf, as a result of it’s rising a lot and we really feel like we’re making a distinction for future generations.”

After a three-month hiatus that started in March, as a result of a blood clot, World No. 3 Nelly Korda is relishing each second again on Tour, particularly forward of a landmark main.
Fan picks up Nelly Korda's ball while it's still in play at women's golf major

“I used to be extraordinarily excited to come back out and play this occasion this yr,” she mentioned.

“I knew the historical past, and the truth that we have been going to be the primary feminine event out right here, too, was fairly superb.

“So I used to be simply extra excited to truly be out right here and to get to play this golf course and soak all of it up, in addition to the historical past of this place.”

Catriona Matthew is ready to tee off first in her group alongside Sophia Schubert and Louise Duncan at 6:30 a.m. native time (01:30 a.m. ET) on Thursday.

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