The 17-year-old Broomieknowe player carded rounds of 71 and 66 - the latter included two eagles in the last three holes - to lead by two shots from Lorna McClymont (Bishopbriggs) heading into the final circuit over the Old Course.With North Berwick’s Clara Young a shot further back in third place, it was a big test for Darling, but, not for the first time in her young career, she passed it with flying colours.
She followed a birdie at the second by making an eagle-3 at the fourth, with a sole dropped shot at the 12th being sandwiched by gains at the 10th and 13th before adding a fourth and final birdie of the day at the 17th.
A closing 71 saw her finish with an 18-under-par total, winning by three shots from Young (71), with McClymont third on 14-under after she closed with a 73.
“This is my first time playing in the St Rule and It’s got to be near the top,” said Darling, winner of the inaugural R&A Girls’ Under-16 Championship at Fulford in 2018 in reply to being asked where this success ranked. “That walk up the 18th was pretty special.
“Not many people can say they’ve played the Old Course on a Sunday and only a few have won on the Old Course on a Sunday.
“Clara holed a good few putts to put pressure on, but everything went pretty much to plan. I have been playing well for the last few months and I felt in control of my game all week.”
Referring to the fact her 2020 schedule had been virtually wiped out due to the Covid-19 pandemic, she added: “I’ve not had any tournaments in the past year or so. In fact, this was my first one for quite a long time.
“But my game came together pretty nicely. I drove it well off tee, hit my irons nicely and holed putts, just everything was good.”
Darling will now turn her attention to three sixth-year exams at Lasswade High School before bidding to add the Scottish Women’s Championship at Gullane next weekend.
“I have a sociology exam tomorrow then one on Tuesday then another one on Thursday,” she said. “These are my last three exams, so I can now give them everything then go into both the Scottish Women’s and British Women’s (at Kilmarnock (Barassie)) with some momentum.
“The Curtis Cup (in August at Conwy in north Wales) has to be the big goal this year. I’ve just got to stick to my processes, go and do what I do and show what I can do.”
Meanwhile, the Scottish Men’s Open at Southerness fell to England’s Callan Barrow after the former Manchester United youth player produced a late birdie brust to win by three shots from compatriot James Wilson.
“It feels amazing,” said Barrow of landing his biggest win to date with a 15-under-par 261 total, having picked up four birdies on the back nine, including two 2s, in the final round.
Irvine’s Stuart Easton, the halfway leader, finished third on seven-under.