Scottish teenager Carly Booth pulled away from a jammed leader board to win the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open presented by EventScotland on a glorious final day at Archerfield Links in East Lothian. The win ensures Booth will automatically qualify for the 2012 Ricoh Women’s British Open taking place at Royal Liverpool in September.
The 19-year-old from Comrie in Perthshire fired rounds of 70, 71 and 71 to end on a total of four under par 212, having played through near-freezing conditions earlier in the week. She ended a stroke clear of England’s Florentyna Parker and Australian Frances Bondad.
She will now receive a full winner’s exemption to play on the Ladies European Tour until the end of 2014 and along with securing her place at the Ricoh Women’s British Open she also qualifies for the Evian Masters tournament in July and the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open next year.
“I’m still 19 and I’ve just won my first Ladies European Tour event so I’m just happy,” said Booth.
Booth came into the round tied for the lead with Parker and Stacy Lee Bregman and played the front nine in level par with two birdies against two bogeys.
She took the outright lead with a birdie at the 11th but Parker birdied the 12th to catch her, before an unexpected swing at the par-four 16th.
Booth rescued a fantastic par after driving the ball into the rough right of the fairway but followed with a skilful 30 yard chip-and-run shot to within five feet of the flag and holed it.
Parker, meanwhile, who had split the fairway with her drive and played her second to the green, rushed her first putt past the hole and missed the return resulting in a dropped shot.
It was then Booth’s to lose and she made another great save at the 17th before making par from out of a bunker short of the green at the last.
“It was only about two feet and I only just got it in the hole. I must have just felt the nerves there. I was fine all the way up until that putt, put it that way. I just didn’t feel anything until I holed that putt because I realised, ‘This is it!’
“It stopped at least for a second and I thought it was going to come up short. It was like the longest two foot putt I’ve ever had to hole,” Booth said.
Barry Hume, who effectively retired from playing on the men’s European Tour recently, was on caddie duties for the second successive year at the event and predicted that the 19-year-old would be a force to be reckoned with in the future. “She’s barely scratched the surface of her potential. I think this will be the first of many wins,” Hume said.
After narrowly missing out on finishing in the top 30 places at Ladies European Tour Qualifying School for the 2012 season, Booth had received an invitation to play in the tournament from her sponsor, Aberdeen Asset Management.
Destined for stardom from a young age, the precocious teen was the youngest ever club champion in Britain at the age of 11 at Dunblane New and number one junior in Europe in 2007, the same year she lifted the Scottish Under-18 and Under-21 titles. In 2008, she was the youngest ever player to represent Great Britain and Ireland in the Curtis Cup at St Andrews.
After one of her early defeats, her father, Wally, built a huge practice bunker on the 15-hole golf course in their Perthshire garden and she said that it had proved useful, as she had faced four of the most difficult bunker shots of her career during the week at Archerfield Links.
As a professional, she was one of the youngest players ever to join the Ladies European Tour when she joined aged 17 in January 2010 and having struggled in her early career, a breakout moment came a fortnight ago with her maiden professional win at the Dinard Ladies Open on the LET Access Series in France, which gave her the belief needed to push through her first win on the top-flight tour.