Rory McIlroy reluctant to forgive Muirfield for original stance

‘They sort of saw sense, but I still think that it got to this stage is horrendous’

 Rory McIlroy:  “Every time I go to Muirfield now I won’t have a great taste in my mouth.” Photograph:  Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy: “Every time I go to Muirfield now I won’t have a great taste in my mouth.” Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

 

Rory McIlroy has indicated he cannot easily forgive Muirfield members despite their belated vote to admit women members for the first time in the 273-year history of the course this week.

The Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers voted 80 per cent in favour of the rule change on Tuesday, having initially rejected the change with a majority ‘no’ vote in May 2016.

The vote means Muirfield will now be restored to the rota to stage the British Open – but McIlroy, speaking prior to the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Bay Hills, said the issue was not over.

McIlroy told a press conference ahead of the Arnold Palmer Invitational: “In this day and age where you’ve got women who are the leaders of certain industries and heads of state, not being able to join a golf course, I think it’s obscene and ridiculous.

“They [Muirfield] sort of saw sense, but I still think that it got to this stage is horrendous. We’ll go back and play the Open because they’ve let women members in, but every time I go to Muirfield now I won’t have a great taste in my mouth.”

McIlroy strongly supported governing body the R&A last year when it stated that Muirfield would be removed from the list of British Open venues until it had a change of heart.

Emotions will run high at the Arnold Palmer Invitational this week as players pay tribute to seven-times Major champion Palmer who died last year as they hone their games for next month‘s US Masters.

Big names

Dustin JohnsonJordan SpiethPhil Mickelson

Defending champion Jason Day, McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama and British Open champion Henrik Stenson are, however, among the big names taking part.

“There’s not a player out here who doesn’t respect Arnie, everybody loved him,” Briton Ian Poulter, who received a sponsor‘s exemption into the event, said. “The course might not suit everybody’s eye and because of that some guys might not play. What’s also difficult is it’s a busy calendar.”

Australian Day returns after his wire-to-wire win in Orlando last year when tournament host Palmer watched on as he clinched a one-stroke victory by getting up-and-down from a greenside bunker at the final hole.

The world number two has struggled in 2017, however, and will be eager to rediscover his form after missing the WGC-Mexico Championship due to an ear infection.

Swede Stenson could also be one to watch as he finished inside the top 10 at last week’s Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida, and has been in the top eight at Bay Hill every year since 2013.

McIlroy looked impressive in his return from a rib injury at the WGC-Mexico Championship, where he made his first start on the PGA Tour in 2017 and finished on 10 under par, four shots behind winner Johnson.

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