Liz Young topped the leaderboard at Final Qualifying for the AIG Women’s Open as 12 players booked their places in this week’s Championship at Muirfield.
Young’s seven-under 65 represented the pick of the scores at North Berwick, with Swedish amateur star Ingrid Lindblad (66) and Denmark’s Nicole Broch Estrup (67) close behind.
Lauren Coughlin of the USA and India’s Diksha Dagar qualified with 68s, while Ursula Wikstrom, Hayley Davis, Jennifer Chang and Janie Jackson also made it through with three-under 69s. Jackson also produced the standout shot of the day, sensationally holing a 2-iron from 210 yards for an albatross two at the par-5 ninth.
The remaining three places were then decided in a six-person play-off between those who finished on two-under-par, with Pei-yun Chien, Celine Herbin and Aditi Ashok progressing at the expense of Emily Price, Pauline Roussin and Arpichaya Yubol.
Yubol, Roussin and Price at least have the consolation of being the respective first, second and third reserves for the Championship, with Yu Liu – who finished on one-under – the fourth reserve.
Chien earned her place at Muirfield by birdieing the first play-off hole, as Price was eliminated courtesy of a bogey.
Roussin had eagled the 18th in regulation play to make it into the play-off, but she was the next to be knocked out as she parred the same hole and saw Yubol, Herbin and Ashok all make birdie threes.
Herbin and Ashok then converted impressive birdie putts as the play-off returned to the first, meaning they progressed as Yubol narrowly missed out.
Leading qualifier Young was delighted with her impressive performance earlier in the day, kickstarted by a lengthy birdie putt on the second and a hole-out eagle on the fourth.
“Playing up the first and second it was quite windy, so pretty hard. I was thinking level-par would be a good round,” said Young.
“But I made a 60-foot putt on the second for birdie and then an eagle two on the fifth when I holed my 9-iron.
“Suddenly that kickstarted things and then I really played safe and capitalised on the par-5s coming in. It’s exciting to go to Muirfield.”
Lindblad made history at June’s US Women’s Open, shooting the lowest ever score by an amateur in the event, a sublime 65 in round one.
She will now get another chance to impress at a major championship, having fired six birdies in a superb bogey-free round at North Berwick.
“It’s my first time here and I enjoyed it,” said the 22-year-old. “It helps when you don’t miss a putt from under 12 feet, so the putter was good for me.”
“It helps when you don't miss a putt from under 12 feet.” Ingrid Lindblad
Jackson, meanwhile, was given a moment to savour for the rest of her career courtesy of her albatross on the ninth.
“They were the best two shots I hit all day," she said. "I hit sort of a little stinger 2-iron into the green. I had 210 (yards) and we were going into the wind, so I didn't think I could carry it all the way up there, so I wanted to hit a little stinger, let it land short and run up.
"Unfortunately I didn't get to see it go in, because it's elevated and tucked over a little back left, but we got up there and I kind of had a feeling that it went in when I didn't see anything on the green up there because I didn't think it went over.
"So yeah, first albatross and a cool place to do it and a good time to do it too! It's definitely helpful - you're making three birdies in one hole pretty much! That's definitely my first one, so it was awesome."
The field for the AIG Women's Open is now complete, ahead of the Championship getting under way at Muirfield on Thursday morning.