England international Emily Toy produced the best performance of her career to win the 116th Women’s Amateur Championship at Royal County Down.
The 21-year-old defeated Amelia Garvey of New Zealand by one hole in the 18-hole final over the renowned links on the east coast of Northern Ireland.
Toy is the first English player to win the title since Georgia Hall in 2013 and has earned a spot in the AIG Women’s British Open at Woburn in August thanks to her triumph.
The 2017 R&A Foundation Scholars Tournament champion has also gained exemptions into the 2019 Evian Championship, as well as the US Women’s Open and the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship next year.
Toy, from Carlyon Bay Golf Club in Cornwall, said: “It’s amazing to win. I played solidly all week. I stayed in the moment in the final and handled my nerves.”
She added: “I was saying to my parents last week I’ve got to do the qualifying for the AIG Women’s British Open but I’m in now, so how cool is that?
“It’s amazing to have these major opportunities now. I look forward to a couple of days of rest and then it will all sink in.”
Toy, who is ranked 450th in the world, ended Garvey’s hopes of becoming the first New Zealander since 1986 to claim the trophy.
After both players made birdies on the third hole of the final, Garvey went ahead at the 5th after Toy’s bogey. However, Toy hit straight back at the 6th after a glorious approach set up a birdie.
The pair exchanged bogeys before another dropped shot from Toy handed Garvey the lead at the 11th. Just when it looked like the University of Southern California student may pull clear, she bogeyed the 14th to return the contest to all square.
Toy let a chance slip at the 16th when she three-putted but made no mistake with a 20 foot putt for birdie at the 17th.
A par at the last was good enough for victory as Toy joined a roll of honour that also includes Anna Nordqvist (2008) and Céline Boutier (2015).
In her morning semi-final against Linn Grant, the Englishwoman also shone to defeat the Swede, ranked 25th in the world, by two holes.
Toy remarked: “I really struggled this morning off the tee but I found the fairways this afternoon which gave me the chances. My putting was also really solid from long distance.
“I went to Australia in January and won the New South Wales stroke play qualifying, but given it was a match play tournament it didn’t really feel like a win. I’ve been hunting a win down and been playing quite nicely this year so to do it here is amazing.
“I was ranked about 800 in the world at the start of the year but I’ve been ticking down the rankings, especially after the way I played in Australia. Hopefully I can come down a few more spots after this week!”
The Pam Barton Memorial Salver was awarded to Toy with runner-up Garvey receiving The Diana Fishwick Cup. The 117th Women’s Amateur Championship will be played at Kilmarnock (Barassie) from 23-27 June 2020.
The championship also showcased other England players with Mimi Rhodes, 17, (Burnham & Berrow, Somerset) reaching the quarter-finals; and Bel Wardle (Prestbury, Cheshire) making it in to the last 16. Top qualifier Hannah Screen (Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire), Amelia Williamson (Royal Cromer, Norfolk), Georgina Blackman (Chelmsford, Essex), Lily May Humphreys (Stoke by Nayland, Essex) and Alice Hewson (Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire) all won their first round matches to make it into the final 32. The Yorkshire pair of Nicola Slater (Lindrick) and Charlotte Heath (Huddersfield) were among the 64 match play qualifiers.
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