Posts Course Record score of 62 to win the Scottish Women's Open
It was a spectacular exhibition of golf on display today by Japanese star Ayaka Furue at the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open. Coming into today’s round, Furue was at -11 under par, 4-shots back of the co-leaders, sharing 9th place with three other players. She knew she would have to play some good golf in order to have a chance of catching the leaders – and she did just that. Not only was her final round score of 62 enough to catch and pass the leaders; she also set a course record in the process, surpassing the record set by Rafa Cabrera-Bello.
With the exception of a solitary grin after sinking another birdie putt on the 17th green, the diminutive player from Kobe, Japan was calm and composed throughout the day, never succumbing to any feelings or emotions that could distract her from her golf. The Scots once gave Ben Hogan the moniker of the “wee ice man” for his calm, cool, and collected demeanor when he conquered Carnoustie on his way to the 1953 Open Championship. Perhaps they will start to refer to Ayaka Furue as the “wee ice woman” for her similar demeanor and play today.
“I had the right mindset. I thought I had to go low, and I played very well. I hit good shots. All around, my game was good; and the birdie putts I wanted to make and had to make, I was able to make.”
The display of golf that she exhibited today was nothing short of superlative. She found 13 of 14 fairways off the tee box and more impressively, 17 of 18 greens in regulation – and this was no calm day in Scotland. While the weather had been worse earlier in the week, today, the wind was ever present and if misjudged, would lead to wayward shots, either going left or right, or coming up short or flying the pin. Along with her putting today, her distance control with her irons was simply magnificent. She played nearly ever shot to the green having correctly judged the wind and turf conditions as the ball would come to rest with what we call “pin high”.
Having a local caddie was very helpful to her, helping her with identifying landing spots, the amount of roll to account for, and judging the effect of the wind. “He was very helpful. He gave me a lot of good advice. He was very helpful with after (the ball) landed, how much it would roll. He calculated that very well and helped me out with wind direction and how the wind affects play.” She also went on to add that she hadn’t really worked on anything in particular, but rather being more mindful of the wind. “I didn’t change anything other than my ball. I concentrated on how to play the wind.”
Putting would also play a role in her victory, recording only 26-putts for today’s round while averaging 28 putts all week. “I made a lot of putts, short ones, and was able to make a few long ones also,” before adding that “I putted well today, but all week, I putted well. I’ve been working on putting two balls at once to square up the face (of the putter) to the ball.”
With her win today, Ayaka Furue joins LPGA veteran Nasa Hataoka and Hinako Shibuno as Japanese players with wins on the LPGA. It was a moment that Furue was able to share and savour with Hataoka. “I am very grateful that she (Hataoka) congratulated me, and I would like to keep playing and be like her and catch up to her wins.”
Celine Boutier –18 under / 2nd Place
For the overnight co-leaders, Celine Boutier and Lydia Ko, today would not be their day as neither could really muster much in the way of scoring. Though they both finished their round under par, it simply was not enough as the individual brilliance of Ayaka Furue was just too much. It wasn’t a case of either player playing poorly and wilting in the pressure of the moment so much as it was Furue’s brilliance.
Of the two, it was Boutier that managed the best round, carding a –3 under score of 69 that took her overall score to –18 under for the tournament and a solo second. She started her round well enough with a birdie on the par-4, 2nd hole to jump out into a 1-shot lead over Lydia, but a bogey on the very next hole pegged her back to -15 under while Ko’s birdie put her in front by a shot.
Boutier then responded with 2-consecutive birdies on the par-3, 4th and the par-5, 5th holes to jump out to a 2-shot lead as Lydia would bogey the par-5. Birdies on the par-4, 7th hole and another on the par-4, 10th took the French player to -19 under par. From there, it looked like it would be Boutier’s to lose. However, bogeys on the par-3, 11th and the par-4, 13th resulted in two more dropped shots reducing her to –17 under.
Despite a rebound birdie on the 14th hole that got her back to –18 under, she would need to play the remaining 4-holes in 3-under to tie and force a playoff with Ayaka Furue who was finishing her round with back to back birdies on the 17th and 18th holes and the clubhouse lead of –21 under. Boutier’s bogey on the 16th hole all but ended her bid for a 3rd career LPGA win.
While there was some disappointment in finishing second, Boutier was nonetheless pleased with the direction of her game in preparation for next week’s AIG Women’s Open at Muirfield. “Obviously (I am) a bit disappointed at the moment, but I feel like my game has been very solid all week and I put myself in position (to win). Playing the final round, final group, is not always easy to manage. I feel like I’m going to gain some experience from this and next time I’ll be lifting the trophy.”
With the win, Ayaka Furue pockets the $300,000 US prize along with 500 CME Points in the LPGA’s season long Race to the CME Globe competition and is projected to vault into 13th place from 26th. She is also the fifth player to win their first event this season, joining Jennifer Kupcho, Atthaya Thitikul, Nanna Koerstz Madsen, and Leona Maguire.
All three players will be in Edinburgh/Gullane, Scotland later this week to compete for the AIG Women’s Open which is being held at Muirfield for the first time ever.