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From Smyth Salver to stardom


Part Two

Luna Sobron

Some of golf’s biggest names have won the Smyth Salver on their way to the top.

Michelle Wie West, Anna Nordqvist and, most recently, Rose Zhang are just three stellar players who have collected the coveted prize during their formative years.

Awarded to the amateur golfer who shoots the lowest score at the AIG Women’s Open, the Smyth Salver has been contested since 1979.

In the second of our new three-part series, we shine a light on the Smyth Salver winners from 2011-2015.

Danielle Kang (left) and Yani Tseng pose with their trophies after the 2011 British Women's Open

2011 – Danielle Kang

Danielle Kang was on the crest of a wave when she won the Smyth Salver at Carnoustie.

Earmarked for a bright future, the Californian qualified for the US Women’s Open in 2007 aged just 14.

Fast forward three years and Kang had started to fulfil her potential by winning the US Women’s Amateur at Charlotte Country Club.

She subsequently travelled to Scotland in good form and compiled an opening-round 72, which included five birdies. Kang performed even better on the Friday, shooting a 69 with only one blemish on her scorecard.

While she couldn’t maintain that form over the weekend, rounds of 75 and 74 were enough for a two-over-par tally of 290, a tie for 49th place, and the Smyth Salver.

Kang would defend her US Women’s Amateur crown a few weeks later, and she is now a major winner after claiming the Women’s PGA Championship in 2017.

Lydia Ko and Jiyai Shin pose with their trophies after the 2012 British Women's Open.

2012 – Lydia Ko

While a nine-over-par finish might not sound that impressive, it was simply another rung on Lydia Ko’s ladder to greatness.

In a Championship decimated by bad weather – Friday’s play had to be cancelled due to high winds and re-started on the Saturday – only one player finished under-par; eventual Champion Jiyai Shin, who finished a remarkable nine shots clear of the field.

Further down the leaderboard was another South Korea-born superstar, Ko, who finished two shots ahead of former Champion Yani Tseng.

Incredibly Ko, now a two-time major winner and perennial world number one, was low amateur in no fewer than six major championships.

2013 – Georgia Hall & Lydia Ko

If Ko lit the touchpaper in 2012, the New Zealander fully exploded 12 months later, finishing as low amateur in four of the five majors in 2013.

On this occasion, Ko would share the Smyth Salver with future Champion Georgia Hall, both finishing alongside Kang on six-over-par after a windswept four days at St Andrews.

Ko found seven birdies in round one, coming home in just 32. She was unable to repeat those heroics in rounds two and three but dug deep on the Sunday, birdieing the last for a 74.

Hall opened with an impressive 68 and solid rounds of 75 and 74 helped to offset a disappointing final day – but a par on the 72nd hole confirmed her status as joint-low amateur.

Hall went on to lift the Women’s Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2018.

Mo Martin (left) and Emma Talley pose with their trophies after the 2014 British Women's Open

2014 – Emma Talley

Another former US Women’s Amateur champion, Emma Talley finished in a tie for 17th place at Royal Birkdale with a score of 294.

It is hitherto her best performance in a major championship and brought with it a deserved Smyth Salver.

The Kentucky native recovered from successive bogeys on the opening two holes, as 13 birdies throughout the week helped her finish on six-over-par.

It was another Championship played in very tricky conditions, with just one player finishing under-par; the winner Mo Martin.

2015 – Luna Sobrón

Luna Sobrón’s capture of the Smyth Salver came amid a successful amateur career in which she found success in three separate events.

She won the 2013 Spanish International Stroke Play event followed by the European Ladies Amateur Championship in 2014.

The 2015 Women’s Open was Sobrón’s first experience of a major and she can be rightly proud of her tied-13th-place finish.

Led by eventual Champion Inbee Park, there were a host of big names ahead of Sobrón, including Ko, Nordqvist, Suzann Pettersen and Minjee Lee.

Sobrón’s performance at Turnberry was all the more impressive given she bogeyed six of the final eight holes in round two.

Her three-under-par final round allowed her to climb ten places on the leaderboard and have her named etched on the Smyth Salver.