March 15, 2017 / 11:45 PM / 6 months ago

McIlroy not ready to forgive and forget Muirfield ban

Mar 5, 2017; Mexico City, MEX; Rory McIlroy looks on from the first green during the final round of the WGC - Mexico Championship golf tournament at Club de Golf Chapultepec. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Muirfield golf club may have scrapped its all-male policy and been welcomed back into the British Open rotation but world number three Rory McIlroy said on Wednesday he is not ready to toast a new era.

The Northern Irishman, speaking a day after Muirfield voted to admit women members, remained critical of the years women were denied membership and did not sound like he would be changing his opinion anytime soon.

“We’ll go back there for The Open Championship at some point, and I won’t be having many cups of tea with the members afterwards,” McIlroy, 27, said as he prepared for Thursday’s opening round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando.

Muirfield had a male-only membership policy since the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, which controls the course, was founded in 1744. Women are allowed to play there, but an initial ballot to allow women members failed in May last year when only 64 percent voted in favour.

But centuries of discrimination ended when the necessary two-thirds majority had been reached, with 80.2 percent of members voting in favour of change on Tuesday.

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

“I still think that it got to the stage, this stage, is horrendous,” said McIlroy, a four-times major winner who won the 2014 British Open at Royal Liverpool.

“And yeah, I mean, 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.”

Muirfield has hosted the Open 16 times, most recently in 2013 when it was won by American Phil Mickelson.

Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Frank Pingue

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