Pamela Pretswell and Vikki Laing both broke par to sit just outside the top ten, yet it was a Scot not even playing in the event who was probably wearing the biggest smile after the first round of the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters.
While pleased to see her compatriots open with one-under-par 71s – Pretswell’s round was illuminated by an eagle at the sixth – of more significance to Heather MacRae was the sight of Mireia Prat sitting in a share of the lead on 67 with fellow Spaniard Carlota Ciganda and Swede Pernilla Lindberg.
Prat has already secured her LET card for next season after topping the Access Series Order of Merit but can secure a better ranking if she can climb from 112th into the top 80 on the main Tour’s money list after the season-ending event in the emirate. If she achieves that feat, Prat would then come off the Access Series list, meaning MacRae, after being pipped for the fifth and final spot by just 40 points following last week’s final event, would secure promotion without having to try her luck at the Qualifying School final stage in Morocco next week.
“@mireiaprat1 great round Chica :) can you hear scotland cheering for you :),” wrote MacRae on her Twitter account after seeing Prat get off to her good start, having admitted earlier in the week that she was hoping to see the Spaniard making “lots of birdies”.
Ocuppying 60th spot on the money list, Pretswell has already secured her card for next season, a praiseworthy feat for the Bothwell Castle player in her rookie year.
“Quite handy” was Pretswell’s description of her eagle, the result of a holed 9-iron from 130 yards. “My last tournament was France ten weeks ago so it’s nice to be back playing,” she admitted. “This is my first time playing in Dubai and it’s pretty awesome. They are probably the quickest greens I’ve played on and one of the best courses I’ve played, so I can’t complain with my start.
“I’ve worked hard with my coach the last few weeks to make some changes so they are paying off and, hopefully, I’ll finish off with a good week and get ready for next season, when my aim will to be improve on this season and move up the order of merit.”
Lying 78th in the rankings, a revitalised Laing has also just about secured her playing rights for next season, as has 76th-ranked Kylie Walker, the third Scot in this week’s field, who signed for an opening 75.
After winning twice last season, including the Ladies Scottish Open, Carly Booth is sitting 103rd on the Order of Merit. However, she has her tournament winners’ category to fall back on next season, so was able to skip the Dubai event in order to head instead to Taiwan for the Swinging Skirts Ladies Masters starting tomorrow.
The event, which is being held at Miramar Golf & Country Club, is managed Booth’s agents, IMG, and also features Catriona Matthew as well as American Paula Creamer and Swedes Caroline Hedwall and Anna Nordqvist.