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Women's Open - Golf: History of Muirfield

29 July 2022 05:44:52 EST
The Women's Open takes place next month

The first Women's Open took place in 1976 and in August 2022 it will be played at Muirfield in Gullane, East Lothian in Scotland for the first time.

Ahead of the big event, we look at the course, which has hosted the Open Championship on 16 occasions, and the tournament itself.

Course details

Muirfield is a links course that has been on the rotation of venues that host the Open Championship and it first hosted the British-based Major in 1892, a year after it had been designed by Old Tom Morris as a 16-hole track.

The course itself falls into the links bracket, but it differs in the respect that they tend to generally head out in one direction and then return back the opposite way.

Muirfield is designed in two loops, one clockwise and one anti-clockwise, which means it can play havoc in windy conditions as breezes can blow in a variety of different directions.

History

It is a private club run by the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers and women were not allowed to become members until 2017 after it had been removed from the Open list due to the policy, so to host the Women's Open just five years later is seen as a big step forward.

But the list of former Open champions is an impressive one, with some of the game's greatest players having claimed the Claret Jug at the venue.

Two of Nick Faldo's three Open victories came at Muirfield and other players to have claimed a win there include Ernie Els, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

The Open was last played at Muirfield in 2013 when Phil Mickelson hit a final-round 66 to claim a three-shot victory over Sweden's Henrik Stenson.

It also hosted the 1973 Ryder Cup, which the USA won 19-13 against Great Britain & Ireland.

Memorable tournaments

The lowest total any player has carded in four rounds at Muirfield in the Open came when Tom Watson claimed the third of his five Claret Jugs, carding a 13-under-par 273 for a four-shot win over Lee Trevino, who had triumphed at the venue eight years previously.

There was also a historic victory in 1987 for Faldo when he held off the challenge of Paul Azinger and Rodger Davis to win by one shot and become the first English winner since Tony Jacklin 18 years before.

Faldo claimed the first of his six Majors by parring all 18 of the final-round holes.

Key holes

It looks set to be a demanding test for the competitors who will tee up at the Women's Open on 4th August.

Wind direction and strength are set to play a key role but there are a few holes that could have a big bearing on who triumphs three days later.

The sixth, a 435-yard par four, could cause problems with its blind tee shot and it could be difficult to find the fairway on this dogleg left, especially if the wind becomes an issue.

It seems unlikely there will be many birdie threes there and the par-three 160-yard 13th will also present a stern test.

The deep front edge will have to be negotiated, but the wind will again play on the golfer's mind on the tee. The five bunkers that surround the green will also come into the equation.

Eventually, players will be greeted by one of the toughest closing holes in the game.

The wind tends to send drives towards the bunkers on the left of the 428-yard par-four 18th and two 20-yard long traps will have to be avoided with the approach as well as two more that guard the putting surface.

Women's Open 2022

The 2021 Women's Open was won by Sweden's Anna Nordqvist at Carnoustie by a one-shot margin over compatriot Madelene Sagstrom, Georgia Hall, who was the last English winner of the tournament in 2018, and American Lizette Salas.

A total of 144 players will head to Muirfield to do battle for the fifth Women's Major of the year.

Canada's Brooke Henderson claimed a one-shot victory in July’s Evian Championship in France, while South Korea's In-gee Chun triumphed at the PGA Championship, Australian Minjee Lee won the US Women’s Open and Jennifer Kupcho came out on top at the Chevron Championship.

Nordqvist would become the first player to successfully defend her title since Taiwan’s Yani Tseng did iit in 2011.

She had won at Royal Birkdale by a single shot the previous year and then posted a four-shot success at Carnoustie.

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