AIG Women’s Open: Muirfield escapes the archaic past to finally host a women’s major


After the euphoria of the Women’s Euro 2022 final, Muirfield achieves another example of the evolution of the sport with the AIG Women’s Open. If England’s Lionesses offer hope that a new chapter has been opened in women’s football, then women’s golf has been stimulated by the opportunity to finally shine in this corner of East Lothian Scotland.

Restricted to men until 2017, Muirfield had to be deprived of the opportunity to host future men’s Open Championships, belatedly making sense and catching up with reality. After allowing female members on a second round of voting, Muirfield is back in the men’s Open rota and contesting for the Claret Jug award for the first time since 2013, but first the golfing world rallies for the sport’s final major of the year.

It’s been a turbulent year for men’s golf and the unsavory squabbling between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour makes this week even more refreshing. Money remains crucial to elevating the level of women’s football, with the total prize fund up by at least $1 million to $6.8 million, but the mentality refuses to deviate from the importance of this week’s host. Make no mistake, unlike Bedminster last week, this golf really matters.

“I think everything is always moving forward and now Murfield have female members who are allowed to come and play here,” says Catriona Matthew from Muirfield, winner of the 2009 Women’s British Open. “I think you just have to look ahead , instead of looking backwards.”

First hosting the Men’s Open in 1892 with a total of 16 editions staged, the tedium of waiting to grace the same sacred turf as the men has not escaped the notice of some of the game’s finest players.

Brooke Henderson after winning The Evian Championship

(Getty Images)

“It’s a beautiful golf club, a beautiful golf course, and everyone has been very welcoming so far,” notes Nelly Korda. “I think it’s going to be a great test to see how the weather turns out, but I’ve seen it [Muirfield] have hosted 16 open championships, so it will be special to finally host a women’s championship as well.”

Korda has been growing in shape since recovering from a blood clot in her arm earlier this year, but the 2020 Olympic gold medalist and 2021 Women’s PGA Championship winner is developing well after finishing eighth at the Evian Championship, held by Brooke Henderson was won.

The Canadian, now a two-time Major champion, cemented her status as one of the game’s dominant figures in south-east France two weeks ago and is one of the favorites to triumph at Muirfield alongside Korda, Lydia Ko and Hyo Joo Kim.

England’s Georgia Hall, winner of the British Open in 2018, also finished eighth in Évian-les-Bains and is enjoying the big stage this week.

A view of the fourth tee during a practice round at the AIG Women’s Open in Muirfield

(Getty Images)

“It’s a great time for women’s golf,” Hall told The Independent. “It’s good to be in the middle, I’m quite young and part of it. Play in the biggest events in the world and compete against the best.

“The level of women’s golf has improved so much in the last three years that people see our talent and how good we are as players from all over the world. The AIG Women’s Open, everyone can see us in person, it’s fantastic, they don’t come around often, Muirfield is very special. They did a fantastic job of getting us to play there.”

As the brief visit to the sport of golf in the UK, and links golf in particular, draws to a close, it is important to enjoy this art form of the game, especially when the elements play a part. The men were spared in a burned-out St Andrews last month when Cameron Smith sped past Rory McIlroy to victory, but that could yet become a wildcard at Gullane, making the experience even more satisfying for Hall.

Georgia Hall is hoping for a second women’s Open title

(Getty Images)

“I really enjoy playing links golf, how natural it is, it’s real golf, struggling with a lot of things,” adds Hall. “There is no one way to hit a golf shot, there are many ways to hit it.

“Keep the ball under wind with your imagination, that’s very important mentally. Playing the British Open is so good for me as an English person.

“We don’t play a lot here, and the support, not a lot of people watching me personally. I thrive on that. It makes you want to play even better.” AIG Women’s Open: Muirfield escapes the archaic past to finally host a women’s major

Fry Electronics Team

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