Hannah Darling has 'X factor', says coach, as she bids to become world No 1

Hannah Darling has her sights set on becoming world No 1 in the women’s amateur game and the 17-year-old Scot has the ‘X-factor’ to achieve that goal, says her coach.

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 4:10 pm
Updated Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 4:13 pm
Hannah Darling shows off the St Rule Trophy after her weekend win in St Andrews. Picture: St Andrews Links Trophy

Darling recorded the biggest win of her career in the St Rule Trophy in St Andrews last weekend and now has two other coveted titles in her sights in the next 10 days.

She’s the player to beat in the Scottish Women’s Championship, which starts at Gullane on Friday, before heading straight to Kilmarnock (Barassie) for next week’s Women’s Amateur Championship.

Both events will deliver stiff tests for Darling but, having watched her claim that weekend win over the New and Old Courses with a brilliant 18-under-par total for 54 holes, coach Ian Muir is excited to see what unfolds.

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“Hannah’s win in the St Rule was very special and it actually should have been a lot better as well,” he said. “There was still a wee bit of rust there and, though she shot nine-under in her second round, it could have been really scary good.”

Darling, a two-time Scottish Girls’ champion and winner of the inaugural R&A Girls’ Under-16 Championship three years ago, was riding on the crest of a wave when she played in the Junior Solheim Cup at Gleneagles 2019.

Her 2020 campaign was then virtually wiped out due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which made her feat in following in the footsteps of both Catriona Matthew and Annika Sorenstam by winning the prestigious St Andrews event all the more impressive.

“It’s been a long, long road over the last year or so,” admitted Muir, who started working with Darling when he was employed by the SLGA but is now the head golf coach at Loretto School in Musselburgh. “We were walking up 18 on Sunday and I think we were both a bit emotional.

“I think it’s been six or seven years we’ve been working together and it’s been a great journey. You know what, it’s a bit of everything that makes it a pleasure working with Hannah. She’s great at listening and she’s great at asking questions

“She takes everything on board and works really hard. There are only two players I’ve worked with, and I’ve been doing this for a number of years now, that have had that X factor - Sally Watson was one and now Hannah."

Darling, who has been sitting her final sixth-year exams at Lasswade High School this week, is heading to the University of South Carolina later in the year, having chosen the “Gamecocks” ahead of Stanford in California.

“She’s great all round and is a delight to work with. She never stops pushing and never stops asking the right questions,” added Muir.

“Even on Sunday night, she sent me a message saying, ‘okay, we’ve done well in three rounds, but can you please write down a few reflections on how we get better’.

“It was a good performance, but it could have been a great performance as there were quite a few things she can improve on, which is exciting for both her and me.

“She’s very clear with her ambitions. She wants to be world No 1 amateur and going to the US later this year will give her a 12-month season.”

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