Early final-round magic from Grace Crawford lights up Royal Troon
SCOTLAND: Monday, April 19th
FORMAT: 54-hole Strokeplay
Fifteen-year-old Grace Crawford became the youngest winner of the Scottish Women’s Open for 13 years on Sunday, claiming the Helen Holm Trophy in stunning fashion at Royal Troon.
The Bahamas-based Scottish junior international started the final day tied for the lead but four birdies in her first five holes set up her four-shot victory over Thalia Kirby (Stoke Park) while joint 36-hole leader Ellinor Sudow (Sweden) faded back into third.
Solheim Cup star Leona Maguire was just 14 when she won the title in 2009 and Crawford’s achievement confirms what many have seen coming for a while. Last year she finished fourth at the R&A Girls U-16s and also managed a brilliant third in the Welsh Ladies Open.
She took to social media to pay tribute to her Bahamas-based coach Jon Hearn, who runs the Albany Academy on the New Providence island. Since September she has been at a boarding school in the Caribbean and lots of winter sun, coupled with the exceptional practice facilities available, has clearly paid dividends.
“What a great feeling,” she said on Twitter.
“Thank you everyone for the continued support and a special thank you to my coach @albanygolfacademy @Jonhearn.”
The West Links GC youngster, who was also the first Scottish winner for 20 years, birdied the first three holes in remarkable fashion. The first and second were played into the teeth of the “ 3 or 4-club wind” but Crawford stiffed a five iron to four feet at the opening hole and then put her hybrid to a similar distance at the next.
“Jon (Hearn) and I have been working on my mid irons a lot at Albany,” added Crawford. “And it was great to see all the hard work pay dividends.”
Her putting came to the fore at the third as she sunk one from 20 feet and, incredibly, almost made it four in a row, lipping out from 15 feet at the next.
However she would not have to wait long for her fourth birdie of the round. At the par three fifth she went for the centre of the green and the putter did the rest as she drained a 15-footer to extend her lead.
With nine to play the home favourite was three clear of 2021 Astor Salver victor Kirby, and a further birdie on 11 extended her lead to five. The soon-to-be champion then parred in from 14 having collected her only bogey of the round on 13, which turned could have been a lot worse. She was fortunate to find her ball after a wayward tee shot and could only “chunk” one out. However she got down in three and there would be no more alarms coming down the stretch.
“I got off to a good start, I was hitting some good irons and converting off it,” she told Scottish Golf.
“After that I just kept it steady as it was still anyone’s game. If I did it on the front nine someone else could have done it on the back.
“My nerves were fine. I was just enjoying it. This is what you work towards.
“This is my highest achievement yet. It’s a great competition to win. I always imagined winning it and it’s just great to do it. Being the first Scottish winner in 20 years is special as well.”