England’s Molly Campbell lifted the trophy at Cardross Golf Club to claim the title of 2023 Scottish Girls’ U16 Open Champion.

Scotland’s Sofia McGhie comes runner-up in U16s as Arianna Virik is crowned tournament champion in U14 category.

Competitors encountered challenging conditions on the first day of the tournament as rain lashed the West Coast of Scotland. However, a hot August sun, made way for a glorious second day of stroke play on Monday.

On Day 1 of the tournament, England’s Campbell finished her round on +1, carding four birdies along the way (on the 2nd, 5th, 13th and 18th) to finish on a final score of 75. With the sun shining on Cardross, she started with consecutive birdies on the first three holes and a further birdie on the 13th. Campbell briefly looked in trouble on the 17th after a mis-hit on the second shot. Nevertheless, she swiftly recovered to bogey the hole and confidently eagled the 18th in a last-minute and well-aimed shot at victory. Speaking later to Scottish Golf, Campbell mentioned how it was important to adjust her style of play from Day 1 to Day 2, saying:

"[On Day 2] it was difficult coming into breeze because yesterday you were so used to getting so much backspin and then [the ball] just stopping dead, to then hitting into the breeze and bouncing over [on Day 2] so that was quite a hard adjustment."

Scotland’s standout performance came from Sofia McGhie, who fought back from a first-round score of 77 on +3, to finish the tournament as runner-up, courtesy of an eagle on the third hole and a further four birdies on the 10th, 12th, 13th and 18th. A Scottish Golf squad member, McGhie most recently represented Scotland in the R&A Home Internationals tournament and will, no doubt be proud of her performance this week at Cardross. 

Meanwhile, England’s Antonia Emmerson, who began the tournament with confidence, birdying the 2nd, 3rd and 6th holes to finish level-par, wasn’t able to catch McGhie or Campbell after a double bogey on holes 4 and 8 on Day 2 left her on +4 and in third place in the U16 category.

Scottish Girls U14 Open Championship

In the U14 category and heading into Monday’s final 18 holes Celeste Darloy (France) was in a strong position on -1 with a first-round score of 73, following that strong performance with a further four birdies on Day 2 to retain her first-place leaderboard position. 

England’s Arianna Virik also hit her stride on the hilly greens to finish her second round on -1 and in joint first position, courtesy of no less than 5 birdies and an eagle on the 18th hole. 

Alicia Kelly (Wales) was also a serious contender for the U14 title race with five birdies on Day 2 giving her a -2 under par score but it wasn’t enough to reduce the deficit from Day 1 and she subsequently dropped out of contention for the top two spots, taking home the third-place prize for the U14 category instead. 

As the second day of the tournament drew to a close, Hong Kong’s Sabrina Wong was hot on the heels of the leading pair as she systematically gained ground with 3 birdies on the 5th, 10thand 13th. However, she couldn’t quite catch them and ended her round on level-par, although was later awarded the prize for the best U12 category. 

There was, therefore, only one way to settle the score; with a thrilling Championship play-off. In a nail-biting finish Virik won on the second hole play-off and was subsequently crowned U14 champion.

Speaking after her close-won victory, Virik said:

"It feels really good, it was quite stressful in the play-off but in the end it all worked out. I think my strategy was to keep it cool and if there was a bogey it was not the end of the world, just to keep going."

Virik first started playing in Scotland at the early age of 7 and confessed to entering the Championship event last year, in which she didn’t place strongly. Reflecting on how she’s since turned her game play into a winning formula, she said: 

"Last year I was a bit younger, and I entered more for the experience more than anything, but this year is my last year in U14s, so I was sort of hoping to win it and I knew a good round was starting to come because my game was getting there. The course is very good and quite challenging… I had an eagle on the last hole today which was great. I holed a 15-footer on a downhill slope!"

Also speaking at the trophy presentation, a delighted Campbell, who hails from Nottinghamshire, said:

"It’s my first time playing in this event and coming to Cardross, I’ve never played it before, but it’s a really nice course – I really enjoyed it. I almost found the greens were very similar to my greens at home; they were a very similar pace so it’s not like at other competitions (this year) where you have to kind of adjust, I just felt comfortable on them. 

"Probably a highlight is on 17 today, which was a bit of a disaster hole to start off with, with an ok tee shot and then not a very good second shot, but to come off with a bogey I think that really boosted me for the 18th to get the eagle. I feel like if I hadn’t made the bogey the round could have gone a different way on the 18th. I really wanted the eagle because I missed a pretty similar putt for eagle yesterday… I wasn’t really looking at leaderboards throughout the day, and I just thought if I can just try and get an under-par round then that would probably creep me inside the top 5. But I wasn’t really thinking about if it would get me the win or anything like that. I just thought it would just be nice to finish under par.

"I feel like main thing in these competitions is to fight for every shot. You never know, 1 shot could get you in the top 10, 1 shot could you get you in the top 5, 1 shot could you win the competition, so it’s turning a double into a bogey or a triple into a double, just fighting for every shot. If you don’t fight for every shot it could cost you the competition. Play your own game and just let everyone else play theirs." 

Scottish Golf Tournament Director, Jason Muir, said:

"I’d like to thank Course Manager, Darryl Munro, whose excellent greenkeeping team have worked tirelessly over the past few months in preparation and obviously over the past few days the course has been in an impeccably high standard and I’m sure the players have enjoyed playing on it. I would also like to thank all of the clubhouse and catering staff for looking after us so well and being so accommodating."

Adam Mckinlay, Director of Golf at Loretto, said:

"We are proud to have partnered with Scottish Golf in supporting the 2023 Scottish Girls’ U16/U14 Open Championship. We have seen some great golf being played at Cardross Golf Club over the Championship, where tomorrow’s bright golfing talents have demonstrated resilience, adaptability, problem solving, and many other 21st-century skills which we prize heavily at Loretto School.

"An Open Championship event like this showcases international talent on a Scottish stage and it’s great to support these events taking place in the birthplace of golf."

The final leaderboard is available to view in full on the Scottish Golf App, or online here.

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