Hannah Darling explains what's next after Augusta National breakthrough

Hannah Darling has hit the ground running on the US college circuit and recently created history as the first Scottish woman to play a competitive round at Augusta National.

By Martin Dempster
Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 6:03 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th April 2022, 11:41 am
Hannah Darling of Scotland in action at the Augusta National Women's Amateur, where she made it through to the final round

But, as the 18-year-old Broomieknowe player reflected on her exciting story so far playing golf on the other side of the Atlantic, she declared: “This is just the start for me.”

Darling made a sensational start to her college career by leading the University of South Carolina to victory in an event in Minnesota on her debut in September.

In a more recent start for the ‘Gamecocks’, she finished joint-second in the Valspar Augusta Invitational before returning to Georgia to make it through to that dream final round in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

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Rounds of 73 and 76 in the opening 36 holes at Champions Retreat Golf Club in Augusta secured a spot in the top 30. With that, she progressed to the final round, becoming the the first Scottish woman to compete at Augusta National. A 79 on the famous course meant she tied for 27th.

She began her college career last September, and has settled easily into college life. She finished second on her debut, was also second in the recent Valspar Augusta Invitational, and has three more top-seven finishes from her seven starts.

“I think when you come over here, it can be tough,” said the world No 11. “Finishing second in my first event kind of set the tone nicely. But, when you come over here, you quickly notice the grass is so different.

“If I’d played in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur eight months ago when I first got here, I probably wouldn’t have done so well as getting used to the grass is the biggest thing.

“It’s almost hard to see the improvement, I guess, because you are almost put back a step when you come here as you need to learn everything again.

“I was almost at the top of my game in the UK and knew how to play all the shots and this has really challenged me the most. Yeah, this has been good for me.

“You have a three-footer left-to-right back in Scotland, you are really kind of hitting it fairly hard to get it to the hole, but here you are trying to tap it as soft as you can and sometimes that’s just to stop it five foot past the hole if it misses.

“It’s things like that. It has a huge mental impact and it’s something you need to learn to deal with, I guess, but I think I am getting there.”

In that final round at Augusta National, Darling wore a Scottish Golf top and a ‘Gamecocks’ hat.

“Lots of people at Scottish Golf helped me get here and I thank them as they’ve done so much for me,” she said. “I’ve been in the system for not far off 10 years and gone up a level, which is kind of crazy to think about.

“As for the hat, the university has done so much for me already and they will continue to do so. I absolutely love the place.

My team-mates, coaches, it’s just the best place for me to develop and the environment we are creating there is just going to go from strength to strength.

“I’ve got three more years potentially, but I’m not sure that I am going to stay the full four years.”

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