Maybe it’s something about the air in Scotland. After Cameron Smith came within four shots of the two-night lead to win the Open Championship at St Andrews, Ayaka Furey did the same to win the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Championship. Indeed, the underrated 22-year-old from Japan was two better than Smith’s closing 64 on the Old Course. Ten birdies on the Kyle Phillips-designed Dundonald Links punctuated Fourway’s bogey-free final round, as her week-best 62 took her to a 21-under-par 267 total, three shots clear of anyone else. Can manage in the field.
There were other similarities as well. As much as Smith was helped by mid-to-poor play from Rory McIlroy and Victor Hovland over the 18 holes, Furu certainly had an unmotivated result on the final day and Lydia Ko’s (71) score. Celine Boutier, the other 54-hole leader, fared slightly better, shooting a 69 to finish in second place, one shot ahead of Hyo Joo Kim and Cheyenne Knight. But two shots dropped in three holes starting at the 11th eventually did much to make up for the Frenchwoman, with a three-putt bogey on the 16th green effectively ending her dwindling hopes.
But it doesn’t matter. This 2021 LPGA Q Series was a top-order play from Fowey, who was in the midst of her rookie season. Seeing a girl’s chance to win on the LPGA Tour, the seven-time winner of the LPGA in Japan grabbed it with a long streak of highlights. Led by her Scottish caddy, Mike Scott, and clearly holding the kind of inspiration every golfer needs on the green, Furu lined up almost everything. So to no one’s surprise, her final putt on the par-5 18th holed an eight-footer.
“My shots and plays were great,” Furey said through an interpreter. “I was able to make the biggest chick I ever had to make. This win builds confidence and I look forward to playing in other big tournaments from next week [at the AIG Women’s Open]. I am very happy to be able to win with my caddy in my home country. He is always a great help to me. “
As for the desperate challengers, Boutier would probably feel very disappointed. But also encouragement. Missed cuts in each of her last two starts meant the Duke graduate arrived in Scotland with less than a perfect filly. But emotions can change quickly on tour. Despite the disappointing finish, the 28-year-old Frenchwoman’s birdie finish on the final green to take second place will at least be at Muirfield for the much-anticipated Women’s Open. her face.
Likewise, there have been times over the years when Coe made playing great golf look like the easiest thing in the world. The then 17-year-old New Zealander’s memorable display of controlled shooting at Royal Melbourne to win the 2015 Australian Open title comes easily to mind. Later that year, she won the Evian Masters by six shots. And that first major win a month later (her ninth win on the LPGA Tour), Ko won the LPGA Taiwan Championship by nine strokes.
But this event turned out to be like none of them. Instead of struggling to anything close to her personal best, Ko’s closing effort saw her tie for fifth place with American Alison Lee. Already 14 after 36 holes, her weekend play was marked by a lack of realistic birdie opportunities. It was, quite simply, not her day (or days).
That, along with everything else, was Ayaka’s fury.