HAVING just turned 21, Carly Booth is hoping her debut in this week’s US Women’s Open can be the key to another door opening in terms of trying to follow up a brace of wins in Europe last year by making her presence felt on the other side of the Atlantic as well.
One of four Scots in the field at Sebonack in New York State – Catriona Matthew, Janice Moodie and Sally Watson are the others teeing off in tomorrow’s opening round – Booth is making her first appearance as a professional in America but is no stranger to the type of test awaiting her there.
Not long after the Perthshire prodigy first burst on to the amateur scene, she had a spell at the David Leadbetter Academy in Florida and, although that ended prematurely as Booth returned to finish her studies closer to home at Glenalmond College, it was a useful experience in her golfing education.
“This week is definitely going to be different to when I was over there at 14 but it’s going to be a great experience,” said the Comrie player, who made her breakthrough on the European Ladies Tour by winning the Scottish Open at Archerfield last May before quickly adding the Swiss equivalent.
“I guess it’s a bit bigger event than the usual ones you get in Europe, a lot bigger, but I’ve been to America a few times and know what to expect from the crowds and everything else.
“My season hasn’t really taken off yet but we’ve still got quite a few tournaments to go and I just need to practise hard, keep focused and just try to be confident. This week, I guess making the cut would be good but I go to every tournament wanting to win it, so I’m going to do my best and see what happens. If I make the cut and can have a nice weekend, I’ll be pleased with myself.”
Matthew was certainly chuffed with herself after the 2009 Women’s British Open champion came close to landing her second major as the North Berwick woman was pipped in a play-off by South Korea’s Inbee Park for the LPGA Championship in New York earlier this month.
It was a reminder that Matthew, who is on course for a seventh Solheim Cup appearance later this year, has no intention of relinquishing her mantle as Scottish No 1 to the likes of Booth, who has nothing but respect for her older and more experienced compatriot.
“I think the first time I met Catriona was when I played in my first professional tournament – the 2007 Scottish Open at The Carrick – and, funnily enough, on the final day I ended up beating her by a shot,” recalled Booth, who was just 14 at the time. “That was an amazing first experience with her but she was so nice to me and, if I ever needed advice, I think she would be happy to help.
“As well as being a wonderful person, Catriona is so level-headed and she is great to watch. Even playing with her, I feel I learn from her. She’s such a great player and is someone I look up to.”
By the sounds of things, so, too, is Booth’s boyfriend, Tano Goya, an Argentine who plays on the European Tour and has just qualified for next month’s Open Championship at Muirfield after already achieving that feat for the recent US Open.
Booth, who will be hoping some of that success will rub off on her when she tries to qualify for the Women’s British Open at St Andrews next month, joined Goya in Germany last week to celebrate her 21st birthday, which included the pair dressing up in traditional German outfits for a players’ party at the BMW International Open.
“Because we are both professional golfers we do end up talking about it away from the course and that can be good as we can relate to each other but we like other things away from golf, too,” said Booth of their relationship. “We both work out a lot, for instance, so we have a nice balance.” Right now, Booth is perfectly happy with the balance of her schedule on the Ladies European Tour.
“But I definitely want to get on to the LPGA Tour eventually,” she insisted. “Finding my feet on the European Tour was the first target because it is a big step to go out there but maybe next year I’ll try for LPGA qualifying – I want to feel ready and make sure I’m ready to make the step.”
Both Moodie, the former Solheim Cup player who is captain of this year’s European Junior Solheim Cup team, and Watson came through qualifiers to secure spots in this week’s $3.25 million event. The latter, who recently graduated from Stanford University, won her event in Colorado Springs and is making her professional debut in the third major on the women’s calendar.
• The US Women’s Open starting tomorrow is live on Sky Sports 3 via the red button.