Remark

MUIRFIELD, Scotland — Catriona Matthew had cause to imagine she was in an ideal place at Muirfield, or at the very least nearly as good because it may get for girls in 1992.

Matthew was 21, a rising novice star from simply up the highway at North Berwick, when she was a strolling scorer assigned to John Prepare dinner, who had a two-shot lead late within the ultimate spherical till he couldn’t maintain it and Nick Faldo made two late birdies to seize his third claret jug.

“That’s form of the recollections I’ve of right here,” Matthew stated.

It’s about to get rather a lot higher.

A former Ladies’s British Open champion and two-time profitable captain within the Solheim Cup, Matthew has been chosen to hit the opening tee shot Thursday within the ultimate LPGA main of the 12 months, and essentially the most important.

It was solely six years in the past when Muirfield didn’t enable ladies to hitch the “Honorable Firm of Edinburgh Golfers,” and even set foot within the clubhouse.

The venerable membership, which 130 years in the past hosted the primary of 16 British Opens, was in peril of being knocked off the Open rotation by the R&A when it took one other vote within the spring of 2017 and agreed to just accept feminine members.

And now the membership that when banned ladies now could be internet hosting a significant.

“The preliminary vote was clearly disappointing however I suppose that was shortly reversed, and clearly I believe they’re delighted now to have woman members,” Matthew stated. “I’ve obtained a few buddies who’re members.

“They’ve now obtained ladies members who’re allowed to return and play right here. I believe you simply should look ahead slightly than look backwards,” she stated. “Golf, beginning in Scotland, we had much more traditions maybe. We’re simply progressively shifting with the instances.”

The Ladies’s British Open didn’t develop into an LPGA main till 2001, and the R&A primary obtained concerned in operating the foremost in 2017 with the thought of elevating the championship. It now frequently goes to hyperlinks programs made well-known over time by the lads — St. Andrews twice, and scheduled once more in 2024 on the Previous Course.

Anna Nordqvist received the Ladies’s British final 12 months at Carnoustie.

Together with the fabled venues, the R&A and title sponsor AIG have persistently raised the purse. The R&A introduced Wednesday it will be $7.3 million — greater than double what it was 5 years in the past — with the winner getting $1,095,000.

Which means 4 of the 5 majors on the LPGA Tour will award a seven-figure payoff to the champion. The exception was the Chevron Championship in California, which already has plans to spice up its prize cash subsequent 12 months as a part of its new sponsorship.

“I believe 2016, it was an vital time for this sport and for the R&A,” Martin Slumbers, the R&A’s chief govt, stated Wednesday. “We had been working very exhausting on a technique for the R&A that had inclusivity very a lot as part of it.

“I believe that whenever you assume again over that six-year interval since then, ladies’s golf has actually exploded, and it’s obtained a protracted option to go but. However I do assume that that point can be considered as pivotal in that change.”

The LPGA is as numerous as ever, and it reveals within the majors.

A 12 months in the past, the 5 main champions got here from 5 international locations. That’s additionally the case this 12 months with Jennifer Kupcho (U.S.), Minjee Lee (Australia), In-Gee Chun (South Korea) and Brooke Henderson (Canada).

They may tackle a Muirfield hyperlinks that’s reputed to be the purest of all of them, a configuration through which the opening 9 are on the perimeter of the property and the again 9 is within the center.

Faldo received two of his British Opens at Muirfield. Jack Nicklaus received his first at Muirfield. The East Lothian hyperlinks additionally is known for denying Nicklaus in 1972 and Tiger Woods in 2002 the third leg of the calendar Grand Slam.

It’s this type of historical past the ladies now get to embrace to construct their very own legacy.

“To be taking part in higher golf programs and golf programs with this historic which means as Muirfield … it’s hosted so many males’s championships, however the first ladies’s to be taking part in this 12 months, it actually means rather a lot to all of us,” Henderson stated. “It’s simply proof that the ladies’s recreation is continuous to develop. … It’s only a actually enjoyable time to be part of ladies’s golf as a result of it’s rising a lot and we really feel like we’re making a distinction for future generations.”

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