Past Open contenders thrilled to see Women compete at Muirfield

The AIG Women’s Open heads to revered Muirfield for the first time ever. After 275 years, the club finally opened membership up 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, the Open Championship, in 2013. However, the course which has hosted 16 Opens was removed from the Open rotation briefly in 2016 due to its exclusionary views. That changed in 2017 when the club decided to welcome 12 women members - a process that took two years.

But here we are, and some past Open champs couldn’t be happier. During the Open Championship’s Celebration of Champions at the Old Course, 2019 Open champ Shane Lowry told that he and Laura Davies spoke about the upcoming AIG Women’s Open at Muirfield.

“It’s pretty cool for them (to play Muirfield), Muirfield in my opinion is one of the best golfing venues,” Lowry said. “It’s probably happened a little bit later (for an AIG Women’s Open) than it should have but it’s fair play to them and everyone for getting it to where it is now. I’d like to see the ladies going around and playing our Open venues as well 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 on the rotation for both (The Open Championship) and their tournament. It's such a fabulous course. It's probably the purest links test of all The Open venues.”

High praise from a player who’s competed in twenty-three Opens.

“It will just be a delight for them to play. And I'll be watching. I'll be looking forward to seeing it because I love Muirfield, too. It's good to hear that Muirfield, as a club, is sort of turning the corner, and hopefully in the future it will be back on this rotation.”

Ernie Els won his first of two claret jugs at Muirfield in 2002. His affection for the place and excitement for the ladies is palpable.

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

2015 Open champ Zach Johnson feels fortunate when he plays Muirfield, and he’s delighted for the women to get an opportunity to compete for a major there as well.

“Muirfield is a gem,” Johnson said. ‘It's one of my favorite golf courses I've ever stepped foot on. To host any championship there and be a participant is fantastic. I wish (the women) well.”

Tom Lehman won the Open in 1996 and told by phone that he feels a sense of duty for the women to get to play on a classic links venue like Muirfield. “It’s kind of about time,” Lehman said. “Augusta opening up their course for the women’s amateur event and having the Open at Muirfield I think is a testimony to really how great the women golfers are today and how deserving of being able to play at these amazing 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’s thrilled the club got up to speed. “You go with the times, don't you? I'll look forward to watching 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 champ Jordan Spieth is pleased with how far Muirfield has come to now hosting their first women’s major.

“It's obviously getting with the times to not disallow anybody from being at a golf club and opening up to everyone. So it's certainly historic that they're going to be going there. I look forward to seeing some of it,” Spieth said.

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

“It’s very cool (for the ladies),” Lawrie said. “I’m looking forward to getting down there and watching (Michele Thomson) play a few holes that week. Great course. The ladies will love it.”

Past champions at Muirfield include the likes of Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo, and Ernie Els. Not a bad list of names for this week’s AIG Women’s Open winner to be listed with.