Rotherham’s Olivia Winning snatched the Helen Holm Scottish Women’s Open Stroke Play Championship for a second time as defending champion Olivia Mehaffey and Skerries' Maria Dunne came up just short at Royal Troon.
It now remains to be seen whether or not a bumper week for Irish women’s golf — there were five Irish in the top 17 — will result in certainties Leona Maguire and Mehaffey being joined by a third Irish player when the Curtis Cup side is announced at 2pm on Thursday next.
Dunne may have required a win but with Chloe Ryan, the third highest ranked Irish player in the world, finishing tied 14th (73, 77 and 75) and claiming the Ladies’ Club Silver Salver for the best team performance alongside Mehaffey, there is still hope.
Paula Grant (70 76 79) was also tied 14th on a bittersweet day for the girls in greens that saw Dunne taking the bronze medal on three over 219 after rounds of 71, 73 and 75 with Queen’s Jessica Ross tied for 11th on eight over 224 (70 73 81).
The title went to 21-year-old Winning — the 2013 champion — who was four shots behind leaders Mehaffey and Linda Lundqvist going into the final round.
While she was never confident, she fired a level par 72 over Royal Troon’s hallowed turf to set the target at one over par 217 and ended up as champion
Tied for the lead with Mehaffey and Dunne and as she the looked on, "freaking out" from the clubhouse, her Irish rivals suffered down the tough finishing stretch and slipped back.
Mehaffey had already bogeyed the 13th and 14th and after a bogey at the 15th left her four over for the day and tied for the lead with Dunne, she bogeyed the par-three 17th.
Dunne made a double bogey five there to fall two behind and there were no miracles at the last, leaving Winning with the trophy.
“Not my day out there today at all!” Mehaffey tweeted. “Thanks for the messages, grateful for the people who are there for me no matter the result.”
Despite their obvious disappointment, it was still a wonderful week for Irish women’s golf with five finishing in the top 17.
Winning has endured a difficult couple of years since she won the title in 2013 but it was in the stars as she hails from the same club as Masters winner Danny Willett.
“I am so excited, it’s special”, she told ScottishGolf.org. “It’s a difficult course but I think I’ve played it enough times now to have found my way round. I played it really well back in 2013 when I won and this year I just kept it simple. I wasn’t as mad with the birdies as I was last time, just kept it steady and it worked out in the end.
“I’ve been working on my swing constantly in the last two years. When I came up in 2013, I was hitting it well and I knew I was hitting it well and I could go out there with confidence. This year it was a more conservative approach as my swing is not in a great place. It’s getting better but I’m still not happy with where it is so it’s nice just to get a bit of confidence back.
“I love Scotland, I love Troon, this is my favourite tournament, my favourite golf course and I couldn’t be happier. If there is one tournament I’d want to win in a year, it’s this one and to have done it twice now is incredible. I’m super happy.”
Helen Holm Scottish Women's Open Stroke Play Championship
Portland & Old Course, Troon
- 1 WINNING, Olivia Rotherham +1 73 72 72 217
- 2 MEHAFFEY, Olivia Royal County Down Ladies +2 67 74 77 218
- 3 DUNNE, Maria Skerries +3 71 73 75 219
- T11 ROSS, Jessica Queens Sport +8 70 73 81 224
- T14 RYAN, Chloe Castletroy +9 73 77 75 225
- T14 GRANT, Paula Lisburn +9 70 76 79 225
- T41 TAYLOR, Rachel Laytown & Bettystown +21 82 76 79 237
- T45 BURKE, Shannon Ballinrobe +22 79 81 78 238
- T50 SEXTON, Sinéad Lahinch +25 78 79 84 241
- T55 MURPHY, Aedín Carlow +26 75 83 84 242
- 58 THOMPSON, Rachel Cork +27 83 78 82 243
- NS DOYLE, Mary The Heath +18 82 80 162
- MC CRAIG , Victoria Royal Belfast +24 81 87 168
- DQ BROWN, Shannen The Heath +20 82 82 164