Living up to her status as the highest-ranked player in the field, world No 27 Darling held off a late fightback from Irish opponent Beth Coulter to land the title with a two-hole win in the final at Fulford.
It was Darling’s second big win in an event run by the R&A at the Yorkshire venue, having also pipped Coulter in the inaugural Girls’ Under-16 Amateur Championship in 2018.
Coming in the week she was selected for the Curtis Cup at Conwy later this month, the 18-year-old Broomieknowe player became the first Scot to land this coveted title since Clare Queen in 2001.
“It’s amazing to win at Fulford again, I honestly can’t believe it,” said Darling, who also got her hands on the St Rule Trophy in St Andrews earlier in the year.
“I felt very nervous before I played today and I holed a really good putt on the first to settle me. I’ve putted well all week and knew I had to get off to a strong start.”
In breezing conditions, the pair shared six birdies in the first five holes to sit all square, with Darling single putting four of them.
Coulter’s bunker play then kept her level before Darling made a birdie at the par-5 ninth to edge ahead at the turn before holing from eight feet for another birdie at the 12th.
Coulter conceded the par-5 13th after finding long rough to the right of the green to fall three down, but the 17-year-old hit back by winning the short 14th with a par then holed a 20-footer for birdie at the 16th to reduce her arrears to one hole.
However, after the Kirkistown Castle’s player passed up a good opportunity at the 17th to go all square, Darling kept her cool to strike two impressive shots on to the par-5 18th and it was job done with a two-putt birdie.
“Coming back from the Covid-19 lockdown, you’re almost unsure how it is going to go as I hadn’t played competitive golf for so long,” said Darling, who is heading to the University of South Carolina later this year to start her college career.
“But I put the hard work in with my coach, Ian Muir, and I knew my game was in a good place. All season I don’t think I’ve been outside the top three.”
In addition to the title, Darling also sealed exemptions into the R&A Women’s Amateur Championship, the US Girls’ Junior Championship, AIG Women’s Open Final Qualifying and the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
The latter event was only inaugurated in 2019 and Darling and Duncan, who won the Women’s Amateur at Barassie earlier in the year and has also been picked for the upcoming Curtis Cup, will be the first Scots to compete at the Augusta venue on the eve of the 2022 Masters,
“Augusta National is an incredible place with a lot of history and I just can’t wait to play there, too,” she said.