Carnoustie memories helping Louise Duncan feel 'more comfortable' for US Open

Having raised her game once already on a huge stage, Louise Duncan is hoping she can do so again as she makes her US Women’s Open debut along with fellow Scot Gemma Dryburgh at Pine Needles in North Carolina this week.

“Yeah, loads,” said Duncan of the confidence she took from her brilliant performance in last year’s AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie, where she was in the mix heading into the final day before trying for tenth behind Swede Anna Nordqvist.

“It makes me feel a bit more comfortable coming into this week. I kind of know what to expect in some aspects and I know that I can go out and play well in these sorts of circumstances.”

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Duncan, who secured her spot through winning the R&A Women’s Amateur at Kilmarnock (Barassie) last year, is among 31 amateurs in the field, led by world No 1 Rose Zhang and Augusta National Women’s Amateur winner Anna Davis.

“Yeah, it’s a great honour to be here and play in my first US Women’s Open,” added the West Kilbride player. “To have that many amateurs in the field is a good challenge and I’m really looking forward to the week.”

Her mindset is a lot better than it was when she created history along with Hannah Darling as the first Scots to compete in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in April.

“There’s a lot of difference,” said Duncan of how she’s feeling about this week’s test. “I went into Augusta not being overly confident but I feel pretty happy with how my game is at the moment.

“It’s a really good golf course. You need to be straight off the tee, which I am mostly. I think if I can hit some nice long balls off the tee I’ll be in good stead.”

ouise Duncan acknowledges the applause on the 18th green after the final round in last year's AIG Women's Open at Carnoustie. Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images.

This event will also help Duncan acclimatise ahead of next week’s Curtis Cup at Merion, where she is joining forces with Darling for the second match running against the Americans.

“I think it’s just going to get me used to having people watching you again and being in this sort of temperature as well,” she said. “It’s going to be a bit of a struggle for me, but it’s going to be good preparation for next week.”

Dryburgh, a former Curtis Cup player herself, won a qualifier to secure her spot in the second women’s major of the season after sitting out the Chevron Championship in April.

“It feels great,” said the 28-year-old of making her debut. “It feels like a bigger event than our normal LPGA events, so it’s great to be here and my family is here as well, which is great. It feels pretty special.”

Gemma Dryburgh secured her place in this week's US Women's Open by winning a qualifier at Dunwoody Country Club outside Atlanta.

Her form is trending towards something special, having seen her confidence grow on the back of a string of consistent peformances on the US circuit this year. In her most recent outing, Dryburgh reached the last eight as a replacement for Nordqvist in the Bank of Hope LPGA Match Play in Las Vegas.

“Yes, definitely,” replied the New Orleans-based Aberdonian to being asked if she felt in the best form of her career. “Just everything has been working, to be honest. I’ve been working on all aspects of my game and it’s been all kind of clicking and working well.”

Her expectations for this week? “I think I’d say to win, but hopefully I can get a top 10 or a top 20 as that would be great.” It would also earn her a large amount of money, with the event carrying a $10 million prize pot - the biggest in the women’s game.

“Oh yeah, amazing,” said Dryburgh of that. “It’s just a big week for everyone playing here. It’s a big week for women’s golf and hopefully we’ll get lots of coverage as we deserve to do.”

Yuka Saso from the Philippines is the defending champion in an event that last produced a back-to-back winner more than 20 years ago in Australian Karrie Webb (2000 and 2001). In a twist of fate, the second of Webb’s wins came at this week’s venue, so that might be an omen for Saso.

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