WITH Pamela Pretswell having graduated by winning the Ladies European Tour development circuit, Scotland’s contingent on the tour has already been bolstered for next season.
Heading into its Qualifying School starting today in Morocco, though, hopes are high that the likes of Carly Booth, Vikki Laing and Kylie Walker could have more compatriots for company in 2013.
The fields in two separate pre-qualifying events include Tartan Tour player Heather MacRae, Mallorca-based Lauren Mackin, Ayrshirewoman Pamela Feggans and amateur duo Kelsey MacDonald and Laura Murray.
The latter two, while forking out an entry fee of £1,200 like everyone else, have retained their amateur status until they see how they fare over the next fortnight.
The final takes place at the same venues – Al Maaden Golf Resort and Amelkis Golf Club in Marrakech – beginning just four days later and both MacDonald and Murray are aiming to be among the 90 qualifiers for that stage.
“I want to see if I can start making some money out of the game, no matter what route I decide to take,” said Alford’s Murray, the reigning Scottish Women’s champion, who has Cheyenne Woods, Tiger’s niece, among her rivals this week.
“Pamela Pretswell has done well on the Access Tour this year and that might be an option if I don’t get my card.
“There are so few opportunities for women professionals. Even in Scotland the guys have got the Tartan Tour, but there’s nothing like that for us.
“That’s where the Access Tour, I suppose, comes in. It has more events now and is looking more appealling than it ever has done. The money isn’t great, but it’s a place where rookie professionals can find their feet.”
Booth took time to find her feet before winning twice on the LET this season, including the Scottish Open, and Murray is hoping the Perthshire prodigy can spearhead a golden era for Scottish women’s golf over the next few years.
“I think the standard in the Scottish women’s game has gone up a notch over the past few years, partly because there are better coaching opportunies and more funding, too,” added the two-times St Rule Trophy winner. “[SLGA coach] Kevin Craggs has done well with the national squad and is helping bring through some promising youngsters, which is important. That has definitely contributed to the growth in Scottish women’s golf in recent years.”
Meanwhile, Booth is 12 shots off the lead after opening with a six-over 78 in the season-ending Omega Dubai Ladies Masters.
On a disappointing day for the Scots at the Emirates Club, Laing (74), Clare Queen (77) and Walker (80) are also well down the field as the pace was set by England’s Florentyna Parker and Shanshan Feng on 66.