Sebastiano Frau and Hannah Darling weathered difficult conditions to be crowned the Loretto School Scottish Boys’ and Girls’ Under-14 champions at Crail Golfing Society.
National Girls’ champion Darling from Broomieknowe, the youngest ever winner of the girls’ title aged 13 at Scotscraig last month, continued her fine form to win by five shots over Welsh player Ffion Tynan with two impressive rounds of 73.
Despite only having returned from the Girls’ Home Internationals the night before the first round, Darling was feeling confident going into the tournament.
“Obviously I was a bit tired but I just kind of had to stick with my game,” she said. “I knew I had the game to win and just wanted to kind of stick to my game plan and do my best.”
Frau, from Italy, had rounds of 72 and 70 to win by one shot over Ireland’s Joseph Byrne (Baltinglass). Crail’s Craighead links course was certainly from what Frau is used to finding back home, but he relished the task. “It’s a different course because I play on a parkland, but I love playing links with the wind, so I am very happy to play here,” he said.
Despite the different style of golf, Frau adapted to it well and is enjoying his new title. “I am very happy,” added Frau. “I played really well this week and I’m so happy with this win.”
Darling will now head to Iowa this week to attend the Solheim Cup, continuing her dream season. She is a member of the ‘Project 19’ squad supported by VisitScotland, the Ladies European Tour, Scottish Government and Scottish Golf. Knowing that many of the players in the European side once upon a time held national amateur titles in their own countries, it means a lot to Darling to now hold two.
“Coming into the beginning of the year I set a goal to win the Under-14s, but coming to the end of the season, to win both, it’s just something else – it’s unreal.”
The Under-12 honours went to Doncaster’s Joshua Berry with scores of 72 and 79, and Grace Crawford from Gullane Golf Club with scores of 85 and 86.
Fresh off a successful week at his Home Internationals debut, Aidan O’Hagan from Old Course Ranfurly finished top Scot in the boys’ section with solid rounds of 71 and 74 to put him in third place. Also finishing in the top 10 was another Home Internationals rookie, Nairn’s Calum Scott, who should great consistency in rounds of 74 and 73.
For the 13th year in a row, Loretto were fantastic sponsors of the event and credits it as being a fundamental part in achieving their goal of helping to promote the game.
“I think one of the key focuses at Loretto has been to work with Scottish Golf, to help promote the game in Scotland, as much as developing the game within the school,” said Loretto’s Director of Golf, Rick Valentine. “Growing the game within Scotland has always been one of our key motivators for the golf academy. It’s also great to have some of our own pupils here competing, doing well and representing on a national front.”
Crail Golfing Society’s managing secretary, David Roy, explained how exciting it was to see so many Scottish players competing so well in a high quality international field, including Crail’s very own, Anna McKay. Having hosted several Scottish Golf events in the past, Roy says there are huge benefits to staging such tournaments.
“The most obvious tangible benefit is the fact that we get international publicity from this.” he said. “People come from up to 20 different countries all over Europe, coming to Crail for the first time, so that in itself is a good thing. It’s something a bit out of the ordinary rather than looking after a standard members’ medal, which we all thoroughly enjoy, but this is something a little bit special.”
Roy believes that hosting a Scottish Golf event is something that all clubs should consider and added: “I think one of the reasons is that we’re all obligated to help the game of golf grow in Scotland so that should be your first reaction.
“One of the things that you get from hosting an international event, especially if it involves juniors, is you get to see the progress of these really talented young players as they develop. That legacy will stay with you.”