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From Smyth Salver to stardom


Part Three

Rose Zhang lines up a putt at the 2022 AIG Women

Since 1979, the amateur golfer with the lowest score at the AIG Women’s Open has received the Smyth Salver, providing they make the cut.

The list of recent Smyth Salver winners features many of the biggest names in golf, from the likes of Michelle Wie West and Anna Nordqvist to Lydia Ko and Georgia Hall.

The final part of our series on those to have claimed the prize focuses on the last five recipients of the Smyth Salver, including last year’s leading amateur, Rose Zhang.

From Smyth Salver to stardom | Part One

From Smyth Salver to stardom | Part Two


2016 – Leona Maguire

Prior to Zhang setting a new benchmark this April, Leona Maguire held the record for the longest period at the top of the World Amateur Golf Ranking.

Maguire’s outstanding amateur career featured two stints as world number one spanning a total of 135 weeks. The second period began as a result of her performance at the 2016 AIG Women’s Open, where she finished in a tie for 25th at Woburn to claim the Smyth Salver.

Leona Maguire, the Smyth Salver winner in 2016

Leona Maguire with the Smyth Salver at Woburn in 2016

The following year brought even more success. As well as holding on to top spot in the rankings throughout 2017, Maguire won the Women’s Amateur Championship at Pyle & Kenfig and was second to Sophie Lamb in the race for Smyth Salver honours at Kingsbarns.

Maguire has since gone from strength to strength as a professional and claimed her second LPGA Tour title in as many years at the recent Meijer LPGA Classic.

She was also a standout performer for Europe in the 2021 Solheim Cup, winning four of her five matches and halving the other alongside Mel Reid, another former Smyth Salver winner.


2017 – Sophie Lamb

Lamb produced a wonderful final round to deny Maguire a second successive Smyth Salver win in 2017.

The English player trailed Maguire by three heading into the last day at Kingsbarns, but finished with a 69 – matching her first-round score – to share 30th place and claim low amateur honours by a three-shot margin.

Lamb also represented Great Britain and Ireland in the Vagliano Trophy and Curtis Cup during an impressive amateur career.

She retired from professional golf in 2022, having played on the Ladies European Tour and LET Access Series.

In a post on Instagram, Lamb wrote: “Being a professional golfer was my dream as a little girl and I’m so blessed to have been able to give it a go.”

Maguire was among a host of fellow players to reply to the post, commenting: “Best of luck with whatever is next for you Soph.”


2018 & 2019 – Atthaya Thitikul

Given just how much she has already achieved, it is hard to believe Atthaya Thitikul is still only 20 years old.

The Thai superstar was just 15 when she made the cut in the 2018 Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes and claimed the Smyth Salver.

Atthaya Thitikul and Georgia Hall with their trophies at the 2018 AIG Women's Open

Atthaya Thitikul (left) with Georgia Hall, the AIG Women's Open Champion in 2018

Twelve months later, Thitikul claimed the prize again at Woburn and recorded a top-30 finish.

Thitikul has since enjoyed a phenomenal start to her professional career, earning Rookie of the Year honours on the LET and LPGA Tours in 2021 and 2022 respectively and briefly reaching the top of the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings.

A model of consistency, she already boasts 12 professional wins, including two on the LPGA Tour, and five top-eight finishes in majors.

She recorded her best finish in the AIG Women’s Open to date at last year’s Championship, tying for seventh place at Muirfield.


2021 – Louise Duncan

Duncan sprung to prominence in 2021 as she followed an emphatic victory in the Women’s Amateur Championship with a sensational bid for AIG Women’s Open glory at Carnoustie.

Two rounds of 68 either side of a Friday 73 left Duncan just two shots off the lead heading into the final day, sparking hopes of a first amateur victory at the Championship since Marta Figueras-Dotti in 1982.

The young Scot was a huge crowd favourite and a level-par final round saw her finish in a tie for 10th, securing her place at the following year’s Championship.

A large crowd watches Louise Duncan at Carnoustie

Fans watch Louise Duncan at the 2021 AIG Women's Open

Rose Zhang, who missed the cut by one on her AIG Women’s Open debut, said: “I got to see Louise play amazing golf and that really set a lot of inspiration for a lot of people around me.”

Duncan turned professional shortly before last year’s Championship at Muirfield, where she again impressed in finishing tied-19th.


2022 – Rose Zhang

Having witnessed Duncan’s heroics at Carnoustie, it was Zhang’s turn to claim the Smyth Salver at Muirfield last August as the American added to her lengthy list of achievements as an amateur.

Zhang was the only amateur to make the cut and tied for 28th to secure the honour.

“It was so special for me,” said Zhang. “As an amateur all you want to do is play against the best pros and really test your game against them. And for me to be able to make the cut and receive that award is something that I’m super proud of.

“The fact that I was able to earn that award kind of serves as a reminder that you’re doing what you can and you’re on the right path to doing some great things, so just keep going.”

Zhang has undoubtedly kept going. After winning the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and surpassing Maguire’s record stint at the top of the World Amateur Golf Rankings in April, she turned professional in May and stunned the golf world by winning immediately on the LPGA Tour at the Mizuho Americas Open.

Having been granted a special exemption to compete in the 2023 AIG Women’s Open prior to that maiden professional success, Zhang will now look to produce another fine performance at Walton Heath.

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