David Kitt has never had a more stressful end to a round of golf than he had at the conclusion of The R&A Student Tour Series Grand Final. It was certainly far less taxing than Lorna McClymont’s post-round experience.
Maynooth University student Kitt took a healthy 87-point-lead into the final event of the five-tournament series, but he didn’t feel too healthy after finishing joint 18th over the St Andrews Castle Course. He perked up when he discovered he’d won the order of merit by just two points, 385 to 383, over Stirling’s Ben Brookes. By contrast, Brookes’s Stirling teammate McClymont finished on 540 points, a 210 advantage over teammate Nicola Slater.
Greg Hurley of Stirling University won the men’s Grand Final by a shot over Halmstad University student Jesper Littorin. Lucy Jamieson of St Andrews won the women’s tournament after defeating McClymont by two shots. However, Hurley and Jamieson were almost mere sub-plots as the Series wound down to an exciting finale.
“I thought I’d blown it,” Kitt said. “I didn’t play well today and, with double points on offer, I was sure I wasn’t going to finish top. It’s hard to believe I’ve won the order of merit. I’ve never felt stress like this after a round of golf. I can’t describe the relief.”
Kitt won the opening tournament of the Series last September at nearby Fairmont, and was the man to beat in St Andrews. “When I won the Scottish tournament I thought I’d kick on and play better, but I just couldn’t get things going so I only have myself to blame for the stress.”
Arnold Palmer Cup spots
The business and management student earns a place in this year’s Arnold Palmer Cup team for topping the men’s table.
“To play with the best in the world against the top Americans is incredible,” Kitt said.
“I can’t thank The R&A enough for this series. It’s a great initiative; it’s well organised, extremely professional, and we play great courses against good players. I speak on behalf of everyone when I say thanks for giving us this incredible opportunity to develop our games.”
Opportunity knocks for McClymont too. She takes her place on the same Arnold Palmer Cup team as Kitt, her second match following her 2019 debut.
“It means a lot to me to stand here as order of merit winner,” McClymont said. “I’m proud of my consistency over the five events. To win three is something I’m very proud of.”
“To play in the Arnold Palmer Cup again is going to be amazing. Knowing I deserve my place and I belong there, means a lot to me.
“We are incredibly lucky to be able to play in these tournaments. The R&A has done an amazing job, and I can’t thank the organisers enough. They’ve given us great courses to play on, and this experience is going to stand me in good stead for the rest of the year.”
McClymont was seeking her fourth straight win after victories in Ireland, Portugal and Spain. She had no complaints about coming up just short.
“I’m really happy for Lucy. She played amazing the last three days and deserved to win.”
Links experience proves vital
Jamieson called on all her links experience to handle the tough conditions competitors faced over the Castle Course, where strong winds meant birdies were hard to come by.
“We had a mix of all weathers the last three days with strong winds and rain,” said Jamieson, who studies chemistry at St Andrews.
“Being used to controlling my ball flight helped a lot. I obviously play a lot of golf at St Andrews, so my game is suited to links golf.”
Jamieson took a four-shot lead over McClymont into the final round and finished two shots better despite a closing 80, seven-over, to finish on six-over 226.
War of attrition
“It was a war of attrition today,” Jamieson said. “I didn’t feel my golf was the best but it was case of hanging in there because I knew everyone was going to drop shots. I’m over the moon with the victory.”
Jamieson’s bonus is a spot in an LET Access Tour event. “I’ve never played in a professional tournament, so it will be exciting to test myself against better players.”
Hurley is set for the same thrill. His one shot victory thanks to a closing two-over 73 to finish on level par 215 earns the Englishman a place in a Challenge Tour event. Like Jamieson, Hurley has never played in a professional tournament.
“The opportunity that comes with winning this Grand Final is massive, Hurley said. “It will be a new experience against some of the best up-and-coming players in Europe. It’ll give me a chance to see what I need to work on.
“The experience I’ve gained today will help, because that’s one of the hardest rounds of golf I’ve ever played because of the wind, the pin positions and the fact I’d never played the course before. I’m incredibly proud to have pulled this off. “
Ditto for Kitt, McClymont and Jamieson.