Gemma Dryburgh makes most of 'calmest Scottish Open' to get off to solid start

Gemma Dryburgh made the most of enjoying the calmest conditions she’s witnessed in the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open to vindicate her growing confidence in the opening round at Dundonald Links.

Gemma Dryburgh sizes up a shot with caddie Paul Heselden in the first round of the Trust Golf Women's Scottish Open at Dundonald Links.
Gemma Dryburgh sizes up a shot with caddie Paul Heselden in the first round of the Trust Golf Women's Scottish Open at Dundonald Links.

On a flat-calm day on the Ayrshire coast, the 29-year-old produced a polished bogey-free effort as she carded a three-under-par 69, which left her on the fringes of the top 15 at the end of the morning wave.

Dryburgh, who has only missed two cuts on the LPGA this season, holed a 15-footer with a “big break” at the ninth for her first birdie of the day before hitting a 6-iron to eight feet at the short 15th then making a 3 at the 17th.

The New Orleans-based Aberdonian was unable to convert a four-footer at the last for a fourth gain, but it was the solid start she’d been looking for in the $2 million event, which is boasting its strongest-ever field.

“I think I only missed a couple greens,” said Dryburgh, who admitted the conditions had been conducive to good golf. “This is the calmest Scottish Open I think I've seen,” she added.

Illustrated by Korea’s Hye Jin Choi setting the clubhouse target with a 64, it was certainly a different test to one in particular faced by Dryburgh during the event’s spell at The Renaissance Club in East Lothian.

“Don't remind me,” she said of that, smiling. “That was brutal. I missed by one after I’d shot one-under that day - one of my best rounds ever. It would be nice to have some wind at some point, but you have to be careful what you wish for around here.”

Dryburgh’s wish from a playing point of view is to get herself in the mix coming down the stretch on Sunday. She’s in the best form of her career and this opening effort was another illustration of that.

“It was good off the tee and I felt like I was striking it well,” she reported. “Going bogey-free as well gives you lots of confidence. Feeling happy with where my game is at.”

In tandem with caddie Paul Heselden - the pair have worked together for three-and-a-half years - Dryburgh is likely to be laying up at the par-5 18th throughout the week.

“We decided it wasn't worth the risk for me,” she said of that shot, brilliantly pulled off by Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello when he won the men’s version here in 2017. “I'm a little bit shorter. I'm coming in with 3-wood. If you're coming in with less than that you can go for it, but 3-wood is too risky in my opinion.”

While Louise Duncan attracted the biggest crowd of the day for her professional debut, Dryburgh also enjoyed seeing some familiar faces out watching her.

“My mom and dad, Paul's partner, Joe, and friends are coming, too,” she said. “Makes you feel more comfortable sometimes. Whatever happens, they will be there.”

Kylie Henry fared next best among five Scots in the field with a 71, two less than Hannah McCook, but Duncan had to settle for a 77 and Michele Thomson shot 82.

“Overall, I’m happy how I played but I just didn’t shoot the score I wanted,” admitted Duncan, who started with a double-bogey 6 before bouncing straight back with successive birdies.

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