Twelve months after finding herself wondering if she was out of her depth on the LPGA Tour, Gemma Dryburgh is heading into her first major – this week’s KPMG PGA Women’s Championship at Hazeltine – brimming with confidence.
The 26-year-old Aberdonian has already made more cuts in eight events on the US-based circuit this season than she did in 18 tournaments in her rookie campaign, which ended with a return trip to the Qualifying School or, as it was rebranded on this occasion, the inaugural Q Series.
In securing a pay day in her latest outing, Dryburgh shot a career-best 64 in last week’s Meijer LPGA Classic at Grand Rapids in Michigan, having also carded rounds of 65 and 66 when producing an equally-encouraging display in last month’s Pure Silk Championship in Virginia.
In short, it’s quite a contrast to last year, when she missed nine cuts in a row before making it to the weekend twice in three events then missed another five cuts in a row before finishing the season with a joint 21st in the Portland Classic
“The last few weeks have been a real learning curve and I have really grown in confidence with each aspect of my game,” Dryburgh, who now lives in Buckinghamshire, told The Scotsman as she prepared to join Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew in this week’s event at the venue for the 2016 Ryder Cup in Minnesota.
“I am really starting to believe in myself and my ability, which I think is what was lacking this time last year. I’d say over the last few weeks the big difference to a year ago has been shooting a few low scores and seeing my name higher up the leaderboard more often.
“I have also had three bogey- free rounds over the last couple of months and I feel like limiting the amount of mistakes I make is the way forward for me. I’m not usually the type of player that makes a lot of birdies and eagles, so if I can limit the amount of mistakes I make then I feel like I can really improve my consistency.
“I have also just started using an Evnroll putter and working with Nick Soto, a PGA professional who is based at Northampton Golf Club. So I have seen a real improvement in my putting which has usually been a weaker side to my game.”
“Going into my first major this week I am feeling like I am in a really good position to go out there and enjoy it and see where it takes me. Coming into a major week in some good form is always helpful, so I am hoping I can use that to my advantage.”
Later in the summer, Dryburgh will be among the players flying the Saltire on home soil in the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club, where, just like the men’s event, which is being held at the same venue four weeks earlier, a world-class field will be assembling.
Hot on the heels of recently-crowned US Women’s Open champion committing to the field, English pair Charley Hull and Bronte Law have now been confirmed, the latter heading to East Lothian as winner on the LPGA Tour after landing the aforementioned Pure Silk Championship.
“It’s great to play in front of a home crowd so any chance I get to play near to home and in front of my family, I’m going to take,” said Law, who was part of winning Great Britain & Ireland team in the Curtis Cup at Nairn in 2012.
“I actually have some family in Scotland on my mother’s side, so it will be nice to have them there to cheer me on.
“Every event is important to me to try to make the Solheim Cup team so, while this (the Scottish Open) is the last event, I am just trying to play well every time I tee it up until the announcement is made and I’m hopefully selected to play for Team Europe.”