McIlroy rejects men-only clubs like Muirfield and Portmarnock: “It’s 2016, it’s time to move on”

McIlroy rejects men-only clubs like Muirfield and Portmarnock: “It’s 2016, it’s time to move on”
Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy lit up the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open then fired a salvo at men-only clubs like Portmarnock and told them: “It’s 2016. It’s time to move on.”

McIlroy equalled his career low in an Irish Open with a five under 67 that left him solo second, just two shots behind Masters champion Danny Willett.

But on a day when Open Championship organisers, the R&A told Muirfield that they can’t stage The Open until they allow women to join, the world No 3 called on the old, stuffy clubs to modernise or die as championship venues

McIlroy said: “We are trying to break away from the stuffy old image and do things to make golf faster, make golf cooler, make more people included.

“Today wasn't a great day to do that. It’s 2016, it’s time to move on.”

McIlroy said it would be “fantastic” if Portmarnock voted to accept women members so the Irish Open could go back there.

Rory said: “It’s never going to go there if they don’t change their rules. Maybe they don’t want any tournament, but it is what it is.”

Padraig Harrington also believes its time for men only clubs like Portmarnock to modernise and allow men members.

The R&A has told Muirfield they won’t be considered as an Open Championship venue again unless they reverse yesterday’s decision to remain men only.

Harrington hopes Muirfield reverses its stance but as an R&A ambassador he backed them to the hilt, insisting: “I like what the R&A are doing. They’re standing up and taking responsibility.

“If Muirfield wants to host the Open with the R&A, you’re on a much bigger stage, you’re not just a small social club. You have to take that responsibility. 

"Augusta have done it, but the fact of the matter is, there’s no reason for it these days.

“In terms of membership, everybody should be entitled to join a club.”

With government money still going into the Irish Open via Failte Ireland, Portmarnock has not hosted the event since 2003.

Harrington is an honorary member but he’d like to see the north Dublin links modernise too.

Harrington said: “Hosting the Irish Open is a big responsibility. It’s the national identity in Ireland. We’re one of the most progressive countries in the world. 

“How can our national identity attach to a club that doesn’t allow lady members?

“Once you’re on that stage, not alone do you have to be fair, you have to be seen to be fair.”

Like Harrington, Paul McGinley is an honorary member of Portmarnock. 

But the 2014 Ryder Cup captained preferred to take a step back and let the R&A and the USGA take the lead.

As for Portmarnock, McGinley said: “I’m there as a guest really, an honorary member. 

“It’s not for me to tell the members what to do and to take a strong view on it. It’s important that they make their own decisions. 

“I have a personal view but I don’t think I should have a public view.”

Shane Lowry said: “I think if Muirfield want to get the Open back they’re probably going to have to go the other way, that’s just my opinion. 

"It’s a great venue. I played the Open there a couple of years ago. It’s a great golf course.”

As for women in Irish clubs like Esker Hills, where he learned the game, Lowry joked: “Anywhere I’ve played up growing golf, you always had women around it. Mind you, we were never allowed out on a Tuesday!”