“She's an amazing talent and it was really nice to play with her,” said the Bournemouth woman of Louise Duncan after watching from close quarters as the 21-year-old from West Kilbride continued to shine on her major debut.
As Hall added a 69 to her opening 68 to sit on seven-under-par at the halfway stage in the $5.8 million event, it was an equally-impressive day’s work from Duncan in her second circuit at the Angus venue.
Helped by the right words at the right time from her caddie/mentor Dean Robertson, the Women’s Amateur champion backed up her brilliant first-day 68 with a sturdy 73 containing five birdies to comfortably make the cut on three-under, sitting in a tie for 18th.
“She’s a very natural golfer,” added Hall of the Ayrshirewoman. “I think she's a lot like me, quite quiet, just let's her golf do the talking. She just goes up and hits it, which I think is a lot like me, too. She doesn’t do fist pumps or high-fives.”
One of the hardest things in golf is trying to back up a good round, but it was mission accomplished for Duncan. She was one-under for the day before dropping three shots in four holes around the turn.
“Round about the 11th, we had a little chat,” revealed Robertson, the high performance golf coach at Stirling University, where Duncan is one of the leading lights on one of the best programmes in the UK, afterwards.
“I just explained to her that ‘you are doing great, this is tough, this is what all the top players go through, you’ve got to get back to keeping it simple’. It was about being clear about her shots and not thinking about the big end.”
Taking that advice on board, Duncan picked up three birdies in four holes from the 13th, including a brace of 2s, and, though disappointed to finish with a bogey from the middle of the fairway, she’s captured the hearts of the fans here with her eye-catching effort so far.
“It was a lot different from yesterday,” said Duncan, referring to this round having been more of a fight than her opening one. “It was all right. Some up-and-downs. Overall, though, I’m happy with how I battled.”
According to Robertson, Duncan has used the past two days to show she has a “big golf game” and, on the strength of that, the 1999 Italian Open champion is excited about what lies ahead for his latest protege.
“She’s three-under-par, but that is the worst she could be,” he said. “Louise has played unbelievably well tee to green. I don’t think she missed a fairway today and she only missed two yesterday.
“She didn’t find her rhythm today, so it was a real grind and a real battle. But she got through it. She had a moment in the middle where she just struggled. There was an excitement level and maybe the distraction of making the weekend had something to do with that.
“Georgia was lovely with her there, coming up to her and saying, ‘you are the best amateur I have ever played with’.
“She gave a clinic in terms of driving a golf ball, it was extremely impressive. There are areas to improve on, but that’s a big strength in her game.
“Being calm and composed and clear about your shot only comes with experience, and this is a whole new world to her this week.”
Duncan’s sights are now set on finishing as the leading amateur before turning her attention to a Curtis Cup appearance in GB&I colours at Conwy next weekend. Beyond that, she is preparing to spread her final year at Stirling over two years to accommodate appearances in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and US Women’s Open next year.
“I haven't played a pro event, I didn't know how I would play,” she replied to being asked if her endeavours so far this week might lead to a change of plan. “It’s been a nice eye-opener and I’ll take some confidence from this week. I’ll see how it goes.”