Ireland’s Ronan Mullarney and Chloe Ryan defied challenging weather to win The R&A Foundation Scholars Tournament in St Andrews on Tuesday.
This is the second time Ryan has won the event after she triumphed two years previous in 2016.
Contested over 54 holes at both the Eden and Old Courses, the two-day World Amateur Golf RankingTM counting tournament features 60 men and women students representing 20 universities from across the world including Cardiff, Durham, Malaga, Pretoria, St Andrews and Ulster.
In a first for the women’s event, the tournament offers both winners a place on the International Team for the Arnold Palmer Cup match played against the USA. This year’s match is being played at the Evian Resort in France in early July.
The tournament features student golfers who receive financial assistance from The R&A to enable them to continue to play competitive golf while completing their studies.
Mullarney, who studies at Maynooth University just outside Dublin, extended his overnight three-shot lead with a two-under-par 70 to finish on five-under-par and record an overall score of 208 for 54 holes.
Four strokes behind, George Burns, from the University of St Andrews, and the University of Stirling’s Robert Foley and Jack Cope all finished on level par.
It was Mullarney’s third attempt at capturing The R&A title and the Gallway golfer and Ireland international was happy to continue his good form into the final day.
“I was delighted to win today,” he said. “I knew the score out on the Old Course was going to be most important. Our manager told us that going on the past the winner has the best score out there today.
“The conditions were brutal – just terrible. We got the front nine quite nice, but the back nine was nasty. We were well prepared for it from yesterday!”
Mullarney, ranked 448th in the World Amateur Golf RankingTM (WAGRTM) admitted the draw of winning a place at the Arnold Palmer Cup was a key factor in playing the tournament.
“It’s some prize to have. I would be lying to say I wasn’t thinking about it the last few days. I’m looking forward to it.
“There was never really a question in my mind about coming here – it’s the home of golf with a chance to get into the Arnold Palmer Cup.
On The R&A Foundation Scholarship, Mullarney added, “It’s huge. We couldn’t travel to have the places we do without the backing they give us.”
Ryan, studying at the Instituto superior de derecho y economica (ISDE) in Madrid, recorded a three-under-par 73 to finish on four-under-par and record an overall 54-hole score of 218.
The 2016 champion leapfrogged overnight leader Gemma Batty to claim victory once again at the Old Course.
Playing in her final Foundation Scholars Tournament, the University of Stirling’s Batty finished two strokes behind Ryan after signing for a one-over-par 77 on Tuesday. Her university teammate Hazel MacGarvie came in third at one-over-par (223).
Ryan, who is 201st in the WAGRTM, faced an anxious wait to confirm her victory, saying, “I wasn’t sure if I had won or not until the very end – Gemma played very well – so I’m absolutely thrilled and can’t wait for everything that comes with it.
“It was very tough. I’m living in Madrid now, so it has been very cold here! The last two days I have had to wrap up and wear extra layers and it’s been wet and windy – so it feels even better to have won in that kind of conditions.
On playing at the Arnold Palmer Cup in the first year a women’s event has been included, she added, “I’m very excited about being able to go and represent the International Team against the Unites States in the Arnold Palmer Cup – I can’t wait.
Ryan, in her last year of studies thanked The R&A for the support she has received throughout her time at university. “It’s fantastic. The bursary helps fund our schooling and our golf, so it is really important for everybody who receives it,” she said.
“I’m very lucky to have had that support for the last four years so thanks very much to The R&A for everything they do for me."
Each year The R&A invests over £300,000 in student and university golf. Currently, the organisation supports golf programmes at 17 universities and in the 2017/2018 academic year, awarded 170 individual Foundation scholarships.
Previous scholars include four-time winner on the PGA Tour Hideki Matsuyama, European Ryder Cup player Francesco Molinari and former Women’s British Open champion and Solheim Cup Captain, Catriona Matthew.
See full results from the 2018 R&A Foundation Scholars Tournament here.