Rory McIlroy says he “won’t be having many cups of tea with the members” when the Open Championship returns to Muirfield and claims it is “obscene” that two ballots were required to open its doors to women.
The four-time major winner was outspoken after the initial vote last May fell just 14 votes short, saying that he hoped the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, which owns and runs Muirfield, can “see some sense one day”.
He has now admitted that “sort of” happened following a second ballot which saw 80.2 per cent of the members who took part in the poll supporting the proposal and providing the two-third majority required for the rules of the East Lothian club to be changed after 273 years.
However, McIlroy described the fact that more than 120 members still voted no as “horrendous” and said he “won’t have a great taste in my mouth” on future visits to Muirfield, where, with the revered venue having been restored to the R&A’s rota, the Open Championship is now likely to return for its 16th staging in either 2022 or 2023.
“Muirfield wouldn’t be one of my favourite Open rota courses, so no matter the decision yesterday, if it had been kept off the Open Championship rota, I wouldn’t have been that unhappy,” he said, referring to a missed cut there in 2013.
“Obviously I was outspoken about this the first time around. I mean, in this day and age, where you’ve got women that are like the leaders of certain industries, and women that are heads of state and not to be able to join a golf course? It’s obscene. It’s ridiculous.
“They sort of saw sense [with the second vote], but I still think [the fact] that it got to this stage is horrendous. We’ll go back and we’ll play the Open Championship, because they will let women members in, but every time I go to Muirfield now I won’t have a great taste in my mouth.”
Referring to the fact that just under 20 per cent of members in the second ballot voted “no”, the world No 3, speaking in Florida at a press conference ahead of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, added: “It’s horrendous. I just don’t get it.
“We’ll go back there for the Open Championship at some point, but I won’t be having many cups of tea with the members afterwards.”
McIlroy was criticised recently for playing golf with US president Donald Trump, who has been widely condemned for his attitudes towards women. The Northern Irishman said he had been “taken aback” by the flak.
“It’s not as if we were talking foreign policy out there,” said the Northern Irishman. “We were talking golf. Whether you respect the person who holds that position or not, you respect the office that he holds.
“Golf was our common ground, nothing else. I’ve travelled all over the world and have been fortunate enough to befriend people from many different countries, beliefs and cultures.”