Catriona Matthew says Scottish double-header is "important" for women's game

Women's British Open and Ladies Scottish Open get go ahead behind closed doors
Royal Troon is staging the Women's British Open for the first time after bringing down it's male-only membership barrier in the build up to the 2016 Open Championship at the Ayrshire venue. Picture: PARoyal Troon is staging the Women's British Open for the first time after bringing down it's male-only membership barrier in the build up to the 2016 Open Championship at the Ayrshire venue. Picture: PA
Royal Troon is staging the Women's British Open for the first time after bringing down it's male-only membership barrier in the build up to the 2016 Open Championship at the Ayrshire venue. Picture: PA

It's a case of double delight, but only for players as the AIG Women's British Open and Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open will both be played behind closed doors at Royal Troon and The Renaissance Club respectively next month.

The double-header will mark the return of world-class sport to Scotland since lockdown measures in place due to Covid-19 pandemic started to be eased, with both events set to take place in a "bubble" environment.

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Only essential personnel, namely players, caddies, officials and staging staff, will be inside a "bio secure zone" being implemented by the R&A at Royal Troon while their movements for the week will be "limited to the golf course and designated secure hotel".

All personnel attending the event, which takes place on 20-23 August, will be required to return a negative Covid-19 test from an authorised testing centre and will be subject to further daily temperature checks and rigorous protocols designed to "maintain the integrity of the zone and the health of those within it".

Similar measures will be in place at The Renaissance Club the previous week, when the co-sanctioned event is being run by the Ladies European Tour and US-based Ladies Professional Golfers Association.

Worth a combined $6 million, the two events are likely to boast strong fields, with an announcement believed to be imminent from the Scottish Government about elite sportsmen and sportswomen being exempt from the current 14-day quarantine for visitors arriving in the UK.

That will help encourage the game's leading players around the world to tee up in what will be the opening women's major in 2020 following the recent cancellation of the Evian Championship in France, which had been due to take place a fortnight before.

“The AIG Women’s British Open is important to the success of women’s professional golf," said R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers, who made the decision to call off the men's equivalent, The Open, with a "heavy heart" earlier in the year. "We have been working closely with our title sponsor AIG, Visit Scotland, Royal Troon and our key advisors to find a way for the Championship to be played safely this year.

“We believe that playing the AIG Women’s British Open is a significant step for players whose playing opportunities have been severely impacted this year. As they compete to be the 2020 champion in historic circumstances, these athletes will continue to inspire golfers and sports fans around the world, who will be closely following events from Royal Troon on TV and social media.”

Due to be taking place this week, the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open has now been rescheduled for October at The Renaissance Club. For the first time since the two events started to be held at the same venue, the ladies' tournament will now take place first this year on 13-16 August.

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“The decision to proceed with the tournament as lockdown measures begin to ease has not been taken lightly," said Jill Maxwell of Aberdeen Standard Investments. "The safety and wellbeing of everyone onsite is the top priority and, as title sponsor, Aberdeen Standard Investments will remain part of ongoing discussions with the event organisers to monitor the situation and react accordingly should the situation change.

"We felt it important to honour our commitment to this event to help provide a vital boost to Scotland’s events sector. We hope this news brings some joy back to sports fans who will be able to tune in on TV and various social channels."

Japan's Hinako Shibuno won last year's AIG Women's British Open at Woburn while South Korea's Mi Jung Hur triumped in the ASI Ladies Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club. Set to spearhead the home challenge in both events next month, Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew welcomed the news about them going ahead.

“We are all happy to hear that women’s golf will be getting back underway in Scotland and especially grateful to Aberdeen Standard Investments and VisitScotland for working so hard to make this happen and putting all the necessary Covid-19 related practices in place and for being so supportive of the women’s tours," said the North Berwick woman.

“With men’s professional golf back playing, it is important that we are able to follow suit, so this is really excellent news for the women’s game and I am delighted to be preparing for my national open in just over a month’s time.”

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