No Open Championship, no problem: History still made at Royal St. George's


Gemma Dryburgh poses with the trophy after winning Thursday's 18-hole Rose Ladies Series event at Royal St. George's.

Andrew Redington

Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh became the answer to a wonky golf trivia question on Thursday: Who was the winner of the first professional women’s tournament played at Royal St. George’s?

Dryburgh, 27, was the only golfer to break par, shooting a one-under 69 in windy conditions, to take the title at the Rose Ladies Series event played at the course in Kent, England, that was set to host the Open Championship next week before the COVID-19 pandemic forced its cancelation.

It was the second straight win on the Rose Ladies Series for Dryburgh, and it came against some strong competition. Finishing one-shot back were European Solheim Cup team member Charley Hull and 2018 Women’s British Open winner Georgia Hall.

“It’s just so special to be the winner at a great and prestigious course, which was in immaculate condition,” Dryburgh said, winning £5,000 for her efforts. “It was great playing with Georgia and Charley, too, and we were neck and neck all day and feeding off each other, so it certainly felt like a big event and it was very special.”

This was the fourth of seven 18-hole tournaments created to help European players gain some competitive reps before the resumption of play on the LPGA and Ladies European Tour. Former U.S. Open and Olympic champion Justin Rose and his wife, Kate, donated £35,000 to help provide prize money for the series, which will culminate with a three-day 54-hole event in August. American Golf and Computacenter followed with matching funds.

Dryburgh, however, is unlikely to play in the finale. She is planning to head to the United States in the near future, where she’ll quarantine in Texas, according to a report from Golfweek, then play in the LPGA’s first two tournaments, both being held in Ohio. After that, she’ll return to her native Scotland and play in the Women’s Scottish Open and the Women’s British Open at Royal Troon.