Why Gemma Dryburgh's win in Japan was one of greatest Scottish successes

Take a bloody bow Gemma Dryburgh because you’ve just landed one of the most impressive victories ever recorded by a Scottish golfer.

Gemma Dryburgh had reason to look pleased with herself after winning TOTO Japan Classic on the LPGA Tour on Sunday. Picture: Yoshimasa Nakano/Getty Images.
Gemma Dryburgh had reason to look pleased with herself after winning TOTO Japan Classic on the LPGA Tour on Sunday. Picture: Yoshimasa Nakano/Getty Images.

Yes, that’s how I reckon the 29-year-old’s weekend win in the TOTO Japan Classic should be rated and I challenge anyone to speak up if they disagree.

The sheer nature of Dryburgh’s breakthrough success on the LPGA Tour was impressive on its own, having closed with two 65s to finish four strokes clear of the field. Oh, and she only dropped two shots in 72 holes.

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On just her second visit to Japan, she came out on top against a strong home contingent, as well as the new world No 1, Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul, and also Swede Linn Grant, the LET’s Race to Costa del Sol leader.

Dryburgh is just the fourth Scot to taste victory on the LPGA Tour, joining Catriona Matthew, Janice Moodie and Kathryn Imrie and she can feel massively proud of that achievement.

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By her own admission, after all, the Aberdonian had felt a bit out of her depth in her rookie season on the strongest circuit in the women’s game in 2018 and she might never really have shaken that off.

Dryburgh, though, has shown that she’s made of stern stuff, having rolled up her sleeves and just got better and better with every passing year since then.

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She used the Rose Ladies Series, which was set up by former Olympic champion and US Open winner Justin and his wife, Kate, to provide playing opportunities for British-based players at a time when they were unable to travel abroad due to the Covid pandemic, to develop a knack of winning.

Three victories on that circuit, which was an absolute godsend at the time, included one at Royal St George’s, earning her a place in the history books as in the process as that was the first women’s professional event at the Kent venue.

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Buoyed by those successes, Dryburgh had gradually been making headway back on the LPGA Tour, having performed very consistently indeed this season in particular.

Did we really think that a win was in the offing? Probably not due to the exceptionally high standard on that circuit week after week. But hats off to her for proving otherwise and who knows what this incredible performance might lead to.

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She’ll now be involved in the LPGA Tour’s season finale, the CME Tour Championship, for the first time and she certainly won’t be flying under the radar now when it comes to that exciting assignment in Florida.

And what about next year’s Solheim Cup in Spain? That might have seemed an outside possibility this time last week but maybe not now, though she will need to really kick on next year to have a realistic chance of making Suzann Pettersen’s European side at Finca Cortesin.

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At this year’s Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open at Dundonald Links, Dryburgh played with three Scottish amateurs in the pro-am, including the highly-rated Lorna McClymont, and they also listened in to her pre-event interview.

They could only have been impressed by what she had to say and how she went about her business on the course and think about how them and lots of other young golfers will have been inspired by Dryburgh, well, becoming big in Japan.

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Scottish golf now has the star it was waiting for to come along and take over that No 1 baton from Matthew, a major winner, nine-time Solheim Cup player and back-to-back winning captain in the biennial event.

Make no mistake, Dryburgh has worked her socks off to join English duo Charley Hull and Jodi Ewart Shadoff in tasting success on the LPGA Tour this season, as well, of course, as Ireland’s Leona Maguire.

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Quite frankly, it couldn’t have come the way of a nicer person and a very grounded one at that.

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