Rory McIlroy (left), Georgia Hall, Tiger Woods and Lee Trevino take a break on the Swilcan Bridge during the R&A Celebration of Champions as part of the build-up toward the 150th Open. Photo: Paul Ellis, AFP via Getty Images
As good ideas go, this was arguably the R&A’s best. Since Martin Slumbers became the R&A’s chief executive in 2015, the organization has been pouring money into the women’s game. Today, the R&A is more than halfway to arriving at its target of providing the same Open prize money for the women as for the men. Yet the four-hole Celebration of Champions exhibition at St Andrews on the Monday of Open week was something else again.
The USGA made the first move in bringing the leading men and women together when it first held its men’s and women’s U.S. Opens in back-to-back weeks at Pinehurst No. 2 in 2014. (The USGA will be doing the same again in 2029.) Next, the Masters announced its Augusta National Women’s Amateur championship in 2018, with the inaugural event taking place the following year.
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