Gemma Dryburgh continued the trend of first-time LPGA winners in 2022. The Scottish pro, aged 29, won the Toto Japan Classic by four shots at Seta Golf Course.
Dryburgh said, “I was in Korea last weekend with friends and I told them, ‘I’ll mention your in my speech’ as joke.” It’s overwhelming to be truthful. This has been a long-held dream of mine. This is a lot of hard work, so it’s very meaningful.”
Dryburgh finished at 20-under 268 in the tournament. This broke her previous record of 276 from the 2019 Pure Silk Championship. She is the 11th Rolex First Time Winner of the season. This breaks the previous record for the most Rolex first time winners in one year, which was set in 1995.
Dryburgh said, “I was surprisedly calm.” “I pictured this moment in my dreams and I was super nervous. I won’t lie, I was nervous. To be truthful, I was extremely calm. I was able to focus on my breathing, which really helped me get through.
Japan’s Kana Nagai placed second at 16 under, while Linn Grant of Sweden was third.
Dryburgh began the day one stroke behind Momoko Ueda, 54-hole leader. After Ueda had bogeyed the ninth, the Scot was in control of the turn. Ueda’s double-bogey at the 11th put Dryburgh in front. Dryburgh hit a hybrid to 4ft and set up the first of four birdies on the five remaining holes.
“That was a big turning point in the round, I would say. Dryburgh said that he had a great shot yesterday and struck the same club today so he was confident he could do it again. Dryburgh said, “But yeah. Had an amazing shot there and it’s a nice birdie that one. It was a difficult one.
Dryburgh rose from 78th to 41 on the CME points lists. She has never finished higher than 100th. The CME Group Tour Championship is open to the top 60.
Dryburgh, a former Tulane standout is now the fourth Scot to win the LPGA. She also becomes the first Scot since Catriona Matthew at 2011 Lorena-Ochoa Invitational. She won the 2017 Oatlands Ladies Pro Am, on the ALPG, and three events in Rose Ladies Series, which started during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dryburgh is this season’s 25th different winner. 26 different winners are the record for a single year, which was set in 1991 and 2018. Two events remain in the 2022 season.