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Muirfield votes to allow women members

Jun 5, 2016; Dublin, OH, USA; Muirfield Village Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports/Files
Jun 5, 2016; Dublin, OH, USA; Muirfield Village Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - Muirfield golf club voted on Tuesday to admit women members, scrapping the all-male policy that led to the historic Scottish course being stripped of its eligibility to host Britain's Open championship.

Club captain Henry Fairweather announced that the necessary two-thirds majority had been reached, with 80.2 percent of members voting in favour of change.

Muirfield has 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.

That result drew criticism from several top golfers, including four-times major winner Rory McIlroy, while Fairweather also expressed his disappointment.

Tournament organiser The Royal and Ancient said last year that it would not stage The Open at a venue that did not admit women as members. It said, however, that Muirfield would be considered again if the membership policy was brought into line with other Open courses.

"In light of today’s decision by the Honourable Company we can confirm that Muirfield will become a venue for The Open once again," Martin Slumbers, chief executive of the R&A, said in a statement.

"Muirfield has a long and important history of hosting The Open and with today’s announcement that will continue... We very much look forward to taking the Championship back there in future."

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

The Royal St George's club in Kent was recently awarded hosting rights for the 2020 Open after it too voted to allow women members in 2015.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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