16 August 2021: Ryann O’Toole, in what is her 228th event and 11th season on Tour, won the first title of her career at the 2021 Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open at Dumbarnie Links in Fife, Scotland. Tvesa Malik endured four bogeys in six holes without losing her calm on a windy final day. The Indian bounced back, playing with determination to come home to an even final nine of the week, posting 75 on Sunday.
Tvesa can take plenty of positives from the week, having given a good account of herself in an LPGA event, co-sanctioned with Ladies European Tour. She shot 73-72-77-75 through her four rounds at Dumbarnie, but despite being constantly challenged by the winds, fescue and dense shrubs, Tvesa managed to stay even on the second nine through the week.
A visibly emotional O’Toole, who played in the 2011 Solheim Cup back in her rookie year, said at her Champion’s press conference, “Words cannot describe what I am feeling right now. It didn’t seem real. It seems very surreal, and definitely a dream come true. I can’t believe it’s taken this long to win but it’s finally here.”
At the start of the final day, few would have predicted that O’Toole would be the one holding the trophy at the prize giving ceremony, given she was perhaps the least decorated of the players on the star-studded leaderboard which included three Major Champions, six LPGA winners and seven LET champions.
And yet, it was the Californian who serenely edged three shots clear of the field with a blemish-free -8 under par taking her to -17 without a moment where she looked anything other than a seasoned winner.
O’Toole’ love of links golf has come through during the week although she explained this wasn’t always the case, “I think regardless, winning over here, I guess take it back to my first year, second year on Tour and playing my first British Open and learning what true links was. I felt like I got my butt kicked at Royal Liverpool. It blew. One of the rounds got called for the day. I had never played in anything like that, and I remember hitting tee shots that just flung across, like those aren’t going to work here. And after that I was like, wow, there’s so much to learn and change and grasp on this style of golf and after that, I fell in love with it, how to hit a really low tee shot, how to play the contours of the green and the course and I just feel like I love this style of golf and to have this be my first win, it seems fitting.”
Tied second was Major winner and two-time Olympic medal winner Lydia Ko, whose heroic -9 par final round proved not quite enough to take her second title of the year. Alongside Ko in second place, finishing with a 66, was the impressive Thai teenager, Atthaya Thitikul, the current leader on the LET’s 2021 Race to the Costa del Sol.
Thitikul, who spent much of the week saying she didn’t like links golf seemed to soften when asked if she was beginning to become a little more fond, “Yeah, of course, just a little bit more, not that much for sure, because you know, like links is tough for sure. Links is tough!”
Past Champion and double Major winner Ariya Jutanugarn finished fourth while England’s Charley Hull’s solid final round of -3 saw her finish fifth ahead into the final Major of the year at Carnoustie next week.
Hull commented, “I think overall, having a good finish here, that gives me good momentum heading into next week. This was a great golf course leading up to Carnoustie. This is a true links and we know what Carnoustie is like. I’m super excited for next week and learn from this week and take the positives and work on the things that I feel like needs to be worked on and have fun out there and see what happens.”
Kelsey MacDonald finished on -7, T15 and was the leading Scottish player, winning the Jock MacVicar Leading Scot Trophy, created to honour legendary golf journalist Jock MacVicar, an ardent supporter of the event, who passed away earlier this year aged 83.