Muirfield should see sense


Rory McIlroy at Muirfield in 2013

Rory McIlroy played in the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013

Rory McIlroy has led calls from top golfers urging Muirfield to “see sense” after the club was stopped from hosting future Open Championships for refusing to accept women members.

The Scottish club’s vote to change its rules and allow women fell short of the required two-thirds majority.

Governing body the RA responded with its ban on Muirfield hosting The Open until the club changed its rules.

“It’s more of a loss to Muirfield than it is to us,” said McIlroy, 27.

But the world number three added: “Hopefully Muirfield can see some sense and we can get it back on The Open rota.”

“Muirfield is its own club and has its own members and they can do whatever they want.

“It’s not right to host the world’s biggest tournament at a place that does not allow women to be members.”

READ MORE: Muirfield battle lost but war can be won

The Northern Irishman was speaking after the opening round of the Irish Open, where Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke – a former Open winner – is also in action.

He said: “Muirfield’s one of the greatest golf courses in the world but the RA have the greatest tournament in the world with the Open championship and their criteria for a golf club hosting the championship is that they have lady members.

“Muirfield have chosen to go their path and fair play to them, but from a professional golfer’s point of view it’s disappointing that we will not be playing Muirfield in the foreseeable future. Hopefully they will do what they have to do to get back on The Open rota again.”

Compatriot Graeme McDowell said he was “disappointed” with the news, adding: “I completely understand the RA’s decision. This is an equal opportunity world, we’re trying to grow the game. Muirfield are well within their rights to make that decision, a private club’s a private club, but we’re very disappointed to lose them.”

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Muirfield has hosted the Open on 16 occasions since 1892, the last time in 2013

Muirfield has staged The Open 16 times and one former winner there, Gary Player, said: “As much as I love and respect Muirfield as a club where I won The Open, I totally agree with the RA that staging the championship at any venue that does not admit women is simply unacceptable.

“I hope Muirfield will reconsider their position soon and continue hosting one of the world’s greatest golf events.”

Women’s Open winner, Scotland’s Catriona Matthew, said she was “embarrassed to be a Scottish women golfer from East Lothian after that decision”.

And Thomas Bjorn, chairman of the European Tour’s tournament players’ committee, said he was “gobsmacked”.

In announcing the club’s decision earlier, Muirfield captain Henry Fairweather had stressed: “Women will continue to be welcome on the course and in the clubhouse as guests and visitors, as they have been for many years.”

BBC golf commentator Peter Alliss highlighted this point when he told BBC Radio 5 live he had spoken to the wives of club members about becoming members themselves as they were sat enjoying the facilities.

He said there was “a look of horror” as it would mean them paying fees for something they could already enjoy for free.

Alliss added he understands why members had failed to vote in large enough numbers to overturn the ban on women members.

“Clubs were formed years ago by people of like spirit – doctors, lawyers, accountants, bakers, butchers – and they joined in like spirit to talk amongst themselves and do whatever,” he said.

“I want to join the Women’s Voluntary Service – but unless I have pieces snipped away from my whatever, I’m not going to be able to get in.”

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