Georgia Hall welcomes ‘important’ first women’s major to Muirfield


On May 19, 2016, Muirfield was removed from the Open Championship rota after a vote to include female members narrowly failed to achieve the required two-thirds majority.

Just over six years later, the world’s top players will play their final major of the season, the AIG Women’s Open, at the East Lothian venue this week, battling for a record US$7.3million (£6million) in prize money.

Sunday’s winner receives $1.095 million (£903,000), a milestone that seemed impossible when 36 per cent of members of the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (HCEG), which owns and operates Muirfield, voted against including women.

The announcement of the result was followed minutes later by the R&A, which stated that Muirfield would not host the Open while the policy remained in effect, a reaction that no doubt played a major role in the outcome of a second vote in March 2017, which passed 498 Agree to 123.

“I think 2016 was an important time for this sport and for the R&A,” R&A CEO Martin Slumbers said in a press conference ahead of the tournament in Muirfield.

“I was only in the organization a few months. We worked very hard on a strategy for the R&A where inclusivity was very important. We were in the early stages of merging with the Ladies Golf Union and honestly that merger got R&A to where we are today.

“I think if you think back six years since then, women’s golf has really exploded and has a long way to go. But I think that this time will be seen as crucial for this change.

R&A Managing Director Martin Slumbers during an interview on day four of The Open practice at The Old Course, St Andrews (Jane Barlow/PA)

(PA wire)

“The R&A had no responsibility for this championship until 2016 and in fact we only gained full control of it two years ago. When I think about where we want to position the championship, I’ve often spoken of a pyramid with the championship at the top.

“Part of it is that big sport needs big spectators. But great sport also needs great venues. We have been absolutely focused on how to find the best venues that matter most to golf and host the championship there.

“And for those of us who have had the privilege of playing here before, this is a very special course with a very special history and a course that generally produces the very best player to win it.

“So this was all about platform. It’s all about the height. I think the fact that quite a lot of stories are being written about it means we found the right venue.”

England’s Georgia Hall is aiming for her second major title after winning at Royal Lytham in 2018 after finishing second to Anna Nordqvist at Carnoustie last year.

“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Hall said of Muirfield. “I’ve heard really good things about the course and it’s really good. I think everyone wants to win here, especially because it’s the first professional women’s tournament that we’re participating in.

“I think it’s so important that the women are here this week. It makes such an impact in women’s golf and AIG and R&A have done a fantastic job working together to bring the championship here.

“I think women’s football is definitely in the best position it’s ever been and I’m very happy to be in the middle of my career.” Georgia Hall welcomes ‘important’ first women’s major to Muirfield

Fry Electronics Team

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