AMATEUR Champion Emily Toy said competing toe-to-toe against the best professionals in the land in the Rose Ladies Series has whetted her appetite for the remainder of the season.
The Carlayon Bay GC member had to play second fiddle as Scotland’s Ladies European Tour ace Gemma Dryburgh claimed back-to-back victories on the English tour featuring Ladies European Tour players.
Dryburgh shot a one-under par 69 at the Kent venue for next year’s Open Championship, one better than former Women’s British Open Champion Georgia Hall, and Woburn’s Charley Hull, who won the first event at Brokenhurst Manor last month.
But for the UK’s leading amateur who was up the leaders for most of her round, grinding out a score on one of Britain’s toughest links courses has given her great confidence for her amateur events to come.
The England Women’s Squad player didn’t know what to expect when she teed it up in her first competitive tournament of 2020 at the famous Sandwich course.
A two-over par 72 earned Toy a tie for fourth place – just three shots back from Rose winner Dryburgh.
Afterwards, the Cornish golfer was able to reflect on 18 holes which have given her great belief going into what is left of a topsy-turvy year.
“I’m really pleased with how I played in what was my first event back,” said the reigning British Women’s Amateur champion.
“I’ve played a lot of golf since lockdown eased. But playing against friends for a fiver isn’t the same as having a scorecard in your hand for an event like this one.
“You forget what it feels like to have to grind out a par and it’s good to have that competitive edge back again.”
Past experience in Vagliano Trophy
EMILY TOY was no stranger to Royal St George’s having played the Vagliano Trophy there in 2019.
“I drove the ball well and hit a lot of greens. But in tough conditions I couldn’t get the ball close enough to the flag for many birdie chances,” Emily added.
“The short game is a bit rusty, but that’s to be expected.
“Overall, I was happy with my game. I didn’t see a scoreboard until the 12th hole and I noticed then that Gemma was in at one-under par.
“I was level par at that stage but knew there was a tough run of holes coming.
“I wasn’t really thinking about pushing on to win, I was just in there competing. A bogey at 14 stopped any momentum and then I bogeyed the last hole.
“That was playing really tough – it was a par four into the wind and I couldn’t get up in two so a five was nothing too extreme.”
It was the first-ever women’s professional event at Royal St George’s which has hosted The Open 18 times since 1894, and also staged the British Amateur 14 times, and the Women’s Amateur on three occasions.
Toy’s plans to turn pro hit by pandemic
EMILY TOY had been gearing up for an exciting 2020 and started her season off with a month in Australia alongside other members of the England squad.
Having won the strokeplay at the Australian Women’s Amateur Championship, the signs were good for a year that also included an invite to play in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
That event has been cancelled for the year along with other key tournaments, leaving Toy desperate to make the most of what is now left of an abbreviated campaign.
Toy said: “I’m now looking forward to the English Women’s Amateur at Woodhall Spa later this month, and then the English Women’s Strokeplay at Burnham and Berrow.
“After that it’s the British Am and at this stage these are the three main ones I’m focusing on.
“Anything else that takes place in terms of Europeans or invites to other events will be a bonus.”
LET Qualifying School at end of 2021 now Emily’s aim
ALL things being equal, Toy would have enjoyed a final year in the amateur ranks before making an attempt to go to the Ladies European Tour Qualifying School.
Toy is still aiming high for a career in the pro ranks, but accepts that planning too far ahead in the middle of a pandemic is largely pointless.
That has now been cancelled for 2020 leaving Toy focusing on her amateur events through until 2021 – before setting her sights on a potential step-up to the pro ranks in 2022.
“I had thought about trying to turn pro this year,” added Toy. “But I want to do things when I’m ready and not rush in.
“This year I had hoped to play Augusta and make the Curtis Cup team before trying out Q-school, but these now become goals for 2021.
“I don’t want to run before I can walk.”
Toy kept up the fine record of English amateurs in the Rose Ladies Series by making sure that for the fourth week in a row at least one England Golf player finished inside the top 10.
Lily May Humphreys, Annabell and Samantha Fuller and Mimi Rhodes had all previously earned high finishes.
•For final scores from Rose Ladies Series click here.
The next event in the Rose Ladies Series will take place next Thursday at the JCB Golf and Country Club, in Staffordshire.
More English amateurs will get the chance to show their skills on the big stage against leading pros.