Ryann O'Toole wins Scottish Open for first LPGA title at 228th attempt
It was well worth the wait. At the 228th attempt, Ryann O’Toole claimed her first LPGA Tour win in style with a classy three-shot success in the £1.1 million Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open at Dumbarnie Links.
“Words cannot describe what I am feeling right now,” admitted the 34-year-old California after closing with a brilliant bogey-free 64 for a 17-under-par total, winning comfortably in the end from New Zealand’s Lydia Ko (63) and Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul (66).
“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.”
O’Toole had started the day tied for the lead with another Thai player, 2018 winner Ariya Jutanugarn, and England’s Charley Hull.
In a gentle breeze as opposed to the tough gusty conditions on Friday and Saturday, O’Toole looked as though she’d won countless times as she gradually took the event by the scruff of the neck.
She birdied the first, second, fourth, seventh and ninth to be out in 31 before adding further gains at the 13th, 15th and 17th in an equally stress-free inward journey of 33.
To keep herself from being distracted, she drew on her yardage book. “Waves. Flowers. Imaging my happy place, being at the beach surfing,” she said of her images.
“I just try random stuff that's easy to draw that just occupies my mind. I was drawing the 18th hole at St Andrews, stuff like that.”
O’Toole was the second American in a row to land the title after Stacy Lewis won at The Renaissance Club last year. Like Lewis, O’Toole said it had been sweet to win Scotland.
“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,” she admitted.
“It was 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.
“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. I just feel like I love this style of golf and to have this be my first win, it seems fitting.”
Had there been doubts about that breakthrough eventually coming? “Yeah, it definitely was one of those like as a kid I dreamed of being No. 1 and dreaming of going out there and being this athletic golfer that just added a spice to the game and then, you know, life doesn't go that direction,” she.
“Yeah, you start pressing and putting doubt, and wondering, is my time ever going to come; do I have the ability to, you know, make this happen; are the stars going to align, because that's what I felt like.
“I think this year, after last year, Covid year was hard. I didn't get to play the Scottish or the British. I had got Covid, so I was stuck in the States. I was so happy to be able to come over here and play this year.”
The win, which was worth $225,000, came in O’Toole’s 11th season on the LPGA circuit. It could have been her last, but probably not now.
“I thought maybe this year would be my last year,” she admitted. “There was honestly no actual set plan to retire. It was just a question of, my clock's ticking, and I know that as a female, and what do I want to do going forward.
“But it (retiring without a win) definitely would have ate at me. I definitely feel like it would have been unfinished business and something I never would have known what the feel is. Now that I've had a taste, I feel like that's going to be a hard one to give up.”
Former world No 1 Ko signed off with a 63, equalling the course record after American Ally Ewing had set it just an hour or so earlier on a low-scoring last day.
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