Sports

McIlroy calls Muirfield's delay in allowing women members 'obscene'

McIlroy calls Muirfield's delay in allowing women members 'obscene'

Rory McIlroy has responded to the vote to allow women at Muirfield, calling the time it has taken as obscene.

McIlroy, the world number three, backed the R&A's move and has again criticised the club, despite the R&A putting Muirfield back on the list after Tuesday's reversal.

The R&A, the body that organizes The Open, then declared Muirfield back on its list of eligible courses, having said a year ago it would not stage the tournament at a venue that did not admit female members.

"Our special nature - "a gentleman's club where golf is played" - is quite unique with its fraternity built inter alia on foursomes play with a round taking only the same time as lunch and leaving enough time for a further round after lunch (even in mid winter)".

Club members were due to take a vote earlier last month on whether they would change current regulations, but a Board meeting postponed a decision on the matter.

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Muirfield has staged the Open on 16 occasions since 1892 and most recently in 2013.

The East Lothian site is one of the four courses which has hosted The Open which is yet to entertain the women's version of the event - one of five majors on the Ladies Professional Gold Association Tour.

The R&A, which organizes the British Open, said Muirfield was back in the rotation to stage the world's oldest major. Women are allowed to play there, but an initial ballot to allow women members failed in May past year when only 64 percent voted in favor.

Women will not immediately become members, though.

In 2014, St Andrews chose to admit female members for the first time after 260 years, with Royal St George's in Kent following suit in 2015.

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Britain's sports minister Tracey Crouch said Muirfield's decision had been a long time coming.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Northern Irishman welcomed the decision of the latest ballot, which saw 498 of 621 voters back the inclusion of women members.

The International Olympic Committee has warned the golf course set to host the Tokyo 2020 Olympic golf tournament it could lose the event if it does not award women equal playing rights.

Thomas Bjorn was one of the first to welcome Muirfield to the 21st century on twitter, while Gary Player said the vote was crucial to the future of golf. A round costs visitors £235 ($285, 270 euros).

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