LPGA pro goes OFF on back nine to become first Scottish winner in 11 years

Gemma Dryburgh with trophy after winning 2022 TOTO Japan Classic

The game of golf was born in Scotland, but the LPGA Tour had to travel all the way to Japan to get its first Scottish champion in over a decade.

Scottish veteran Gemma Dryburgh had a lights-out weekend at this week’s TOTO Japan Classic, firing back-to-back 65s at Seta Golf Club to reach 20 under and capture her very first LPGA victory by a four-shot margin.

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But it didn’t come easily for Dryburgh, who needed a heroic stretch over her final nine holes to take home the title.

Dryburgh started the final round one shot off the lead held by Japan’s Momoko Ueda, and the two pros traded blows all day long. After five holes, Ueda still led by one, but once the final grouping made the turn, their roles were reversed, with Dryburgh taking over the narrow lead, one shot in front of Ueda and Linn Grant.

That’s when Dryburgh truly stepped on the gas, making an incredible five birdies over her final eight holes, including a stretch of three-straight birdies on holes 13-15 and one final red number at the 18th, to earn a life-changing victory she’ll never forget.

Dryburgh, who is 29 and was ranked No. 199 in the world before this week, started competing on the LPGA way back in 2018, but wins have been hard to come by. Before this weekend’s triumph, she had compiled just over $400,000 in earnings on the course over her entire LPGA career. On Sunday she nearly doubled that total, taking home a cool $300,000 for her win.

“I can’t (believe it), to be honest. I was in Korea last week with friends and said to them, ‘I will mention you in my speech’ but just as a joke,” Dryburgh told the Scotsman after her win. “It is overwhelming, to be honest. It’s been a dream of mine for a long time and a lot of hard work has gone into this and it means so much as it is a life-changing win.”

The big victory represents the first by a Scottish player on the LPGA Tour since Catriona Matthew captured the Lorena Ochoa Invitational back in 2011.

You can check out highlights from Dryburgh’s memorable final round below.

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