Kate Lanigan and Miguel Orzi had to contest fierce battles in Rome to make R&A Student Tour Series history.
At Olgiata Golf Club on the outskirts of the Italian capital, Ireland’s Lanigan became the first female Maynooth University player to win a Student Tour Series event, while Orzi goes down in the series record books as the first Italian winner.
Lanigan came from five shots behind Halmstad University’s Kajsalotta Svarvar to win by a shot. She recorded a closing 2-under 71 after rounds of 70 and 73 to finish on 5-under 214. Orzi, a University of Modena and Reggio Emilia undergraduate, defeated Stirling University’s Ben Brookes at the first playoff hole after the pair had tied on 10-under-par 209.
“I am really happy to become the first Italian winner in the Student Tour Series,” said Orzi, who is doing a combined degree in business and engineering. “Any time you do something for the first time, you have to feel pride.
“I had a bit of luck at the fifth hole when I holed a 30-foot birdie putt. I should have holed my bunker shot for eagle at 17 but got unlucky and it lipped out. So bad luck and then good luck, but it worked in the end and I’m happy.”
Other than winning his first Student Tour Series event, Orzi now has a chance of playing in the final next April at St Andrews.
“I’m looking forward to playing more tournaments in the Student Tour Series,” he said. “To get the chance to play St Andrews, the greatest course in the world, for the first time, and in a competition, will be a dream come true.
“This is my first [STS] tournament, and I’ve learned a lot. I like that I can speak to other students from other countries, other cultures and universities. I’ve been asking them how they train, how they organise themselves, what a typical day is like and just how they combine golf and schoolwork. It’s been a great learning experience.”
“It was news to me that I’m Maynooth’s first women winner. I’m only in my second week at Maynooth, so to do this is fantastic."
Maynooth have plenty of male winners of STS events, including Eoin Murphy, who won in Spain last month. Lanigan, who spent her undergrad years at Trinity College Dublin before transferring to Maynooth to do a master’s degree in sustainability, was grinning ear to ear, especially since she started the final round with a bogey at the first hole.
“It was news to me that I’m Maynooth’s first women winner,” Lanigan said. “I’m only in my second week at Maynooth, so to do this is fantastic. It’s also my first win in five years since the 2018 Irish Girls Close Championship, so it’s been a long time since I won.”
Svarvar began the final round with a four-shot lead on Darcey Harry, who attends Royal Agricultural University. But the diminutive Swede slipped to a final-round 77.
“I had absolutely no expectations today,” Lanigan said. “I was just trying to finish second or third, to be honest, but I made birdie at the fifth hole and she made bogey, and I thought I might have a chance.”
Further birdies at the 11th and 15th holes put Lanigan into a tie on 5-under with the Swede, before the 17th proved crucial. Lanigan’s second shot to the par-5 rolled down a cart path to the right of the fairway and she could only chip back into play. She then got up and down from 50 yards for a par. Svarvar missed a short putt for par and fell one shot behind.
The Student Tour Series now moves on to Portugal in February at Vilamoura and then Le Golf National in France in March before the final in St Andrews in April.
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