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AIG Women's Open 2022: The world's best women on what used to be a men-only golf course

Former Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew hails from nearby Berwick
venue: Muirfield, Gullane, Scotland date: August 3 (Thursday) to August 7 (Sunday)
coverage: Follow BBC iPlayer and BBC Two highlights and updates on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Sport websites and apps

Former Solheim Cup captain Catriona Mathieu has proven that if women had ever been on the course at previous Muirfield Majors, they would probably have been picking up trash and carrying the scoreboard. increase.

But times have changed. Even in the ultra-conservative world of Edinburgh Golfer’s Honorable Company.

This week, the exclusive club based in the glorious East Lothian Ring will host the world’s best female players competing in the AIG Women’s Open.

Until 2017, Muirfield was a men-only golf course, and the club, which was unable to find the two-thirds majority required to change its composition and allow female members, entered the Men’s Open Rota. was hit by

This loss of status has centered the mind and the second round of voting has proved more progressive, allowing women to participate for the first time. I’m still waiting for my Men’s Open assignment, but I’m back on the list of candidate courses.

And while not the traditional claret jug, perhaps Scotland’s fairest links test is to stage big-time golf again.

Scotland’s Matthew hits the first tee shot in the final women’s major of the year on Thursday morning. The hearts of the 2009 champions will remember their first visit to Muirfield.

They were involved in voluntarily picking up trash and carrying the scoreboard at the 1992 championship.

“I remember one time I scored a goal, it was horrible weather,” Matthew recalls. “I was actually lucky to be in John Cook’s group on my last day. [Sir Nick] I think Faldo won and John Cook missed a small putt on the 17th.”

Having hosted the Open since 1892, Muirfield is now also the venue for one of the world’s largest women’s tournaments, joining venues such as Royal Lytham, Carnoustie, St Andrews Old Course, Royal Birkdale and Turnberry. It is

“I’m glad I came here,” Matthew added. “Probably in the last decade, we started going to all-open venues where men have been playing for the last 50, 60 years.

“And I think it will only improve this championship – and we’re going to a track that people are used to seeing now. I think that’s good for us.”

Matthew, from nearby North Berwick, added:

The 52-year-old was delighted to watch Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist’s emotional win at Carnoustie last year.

Now the Swede is soaking up the atmosphere before attempting to retain his title this week. “I’ve heard a lot about Muirfield,” said Nordqvist, 35.

“I know they’ve been playing here for years, so I think adding Muirfield to the open rotation is a great opportunity for us.

“So cool to see the pictures. I’ve been looking forward to this week for a long time.”

The leading contenders are unanimously happy that Muirfield is hosting the tournament. Olympic champion Nelly Coda said: “I was very excited to be able to participate and play in this event this year.

“I knew the history, and the fact that it would be the first women’s tournament here was pretty amazing.

“So I was more excited to actually come here and play this golf course and soak up everything, not just the history of this place.”

The American Korda has made strong progress since returning from a blood clot in his arm, missing out on the opening major of the year, Chevron, in March. The 24-year-old has since scored two major top 10s, including his eighth-place share in his recent championship at Evian.

That event was won by revived Canadian Brooke Henderson, another top star eager to highlight the week’s historical significance. “Playing this year really means a lot to all of us,” said the 24-year-old world number five.

“This shows that the women’s game continues to grow, that wallet sizes are growing, that they are appearing more on network TV, and that they are playing in these better venues. Prove it.

“Women’s golf is growing so much and I feel like I’m making a difference for future generations, so it’s a really exciting time to be a part of women’s golf.”

And the young people who are volunteering this week will get their first chance to walk Muirfield’s hallowed lawn and, if they can achieve high enough standards, what will stop them from competing for the biggest prizes there in the future. I am confident that there is nothing