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Former Open contenders thrilled to see women compete at Muirfield | LPGA

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The AIG Women’s Open is heading to the revered Muirfield for the very first time. After 275 years, the club finally opened membership to women in 2019, and now just three years later, a woman will be crowned champion in this prestigious major. Muirfield last hosted a major tournament, The Open Championship, in 2013. However, the course which hosted 16 Opens was briefly removed from the Open rotation in 2016 due to its exclusionary views. This changed in 2017 when the club decided to welcome 12 female members – a process that took two years.

But here we are, and some former Open champions couldn’t be happier. During the Open Championship Champions Celebration at the Old Course, 2019 Open Champion Shane Lowry told LPGA.com that he and Laura Davies talked about the upcoming AIG Women’s Open at Muirfield.

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“It’s pretty cool for them (to play at Muirfield), Muirfield is one of the best golf venues in my opinion,” Lowry said. “It probably came a little later (for an AIG Women’s Open) than it should have, but it’s fair game for them and everyone else to get to where it is now. I would love to see the ladies walking around and playing at our Open venues too because they deserve it just as much as we do.”

The 2009 Open champion agrees with Lowry. “I’m excited for them,” Stewart Cink said. “I think Muirfield belongs in the rotation for (The Open Championship) and their tournament. It’s such a fabulous course. This is probably the purest link test of all The Open sites.

The praise of a player who has participated in twenty-three Open.

“It will just be a pleasure for them to play. And I will watch. I can’t wait to see it because I like Muirfield too. It’s good to hear that Muirfield as a club are turning the corner, and hopefully in the future they are back on that rotation.

Ernie Els won his first of two jugs of Bordeaux at Muirfield in 2002. His affection for the place and his enthusiasm for the ladies are palpable.

“It’s great to see the women playing at Muirfield. It’s wonderful to see them play there. Obviously, it’s a great place, a wonderful story. It’s one of my favorites. Obviously St. Andrews, Muirfield and Lytham stand out for me,” Els said.

2015 Open champion Zach Johnson feels lucky when he faces Muirfield, and he’s thrilled the women also have the opportunity to compete for a major there.

“Muirfield is a gem,” Johnson said. “It’s one of my favorite golf courses I’ve ever set foot on. To organize a championship there and to participate in it is fantastic. I wish (the women) good luck.

Tom Lehman won the Open in 1996 and told LPGA.com over the phone that he felt a sense of duty for women to be able to play at a classic venue like Muirfield. “It’s kind of time,” Lehman said. “Augusta opens its course for the women’s amateur event and hosts the Open at Muirfield, I think it’s a testament to the quality of female golfers today and their merit to be able to play at these incredible championship venues, so I’m happy for the ladies and I’m proud of the clubs for doing it, I just think it’s a really good step.

Tommy Fleetwood can’t wait to watch the competition. He is delighted that the club have made themselves aware. “You go with your time, don’t you?” Can’t wait to watch the Women’s Open at Muirfield. I really will,” Fleetwood said. “It’s a great golf course and it’s a championship level golf course and I’m sure I’ll enjoy watching it.”

2017 Open champion Jordan Spieth is pleased with how far Muirfield has come to host their first women’s major.

“It is obvious that it becomes over time not to prohibit anyone from being in a golf club and to open up to everyone. So it is certainly historic that they go there. I can’t wait to see some of it,” Spieth said.

1999 Open champion Paul Lawrie plans to be at Muirfield for part of the AIG Women’s Open. One of the players he currently manages through Five Star Sports will be on the pitch.

“It’s very cool (for the ladies),” Lawrie said. “I can’t wait to get out there and watch (Michele Thompson) play a few holes that week. Great course. The ladies will love it.

Former Muirfield champions include Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo and Ernie Els. That’s not a bad list of names for this week’s AIG Women’s Open winner.

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