Louise Duncan hoping old and new can be winning LET card combination

Louise Duncan is hoping a combination of old and new will help her successfully negotiate the Ladies European Tour Qualifying School in Spain next month as she bids to join recent LPGA Tour winner Gemma Dryburgh in delivering Scottish success on the world stage.

© 2022 Recounter Media Limited
© 2022 Recounter Media Limited

The old comes in the shape of Dean Robertson, her mentor during a spell at University of Stirling and continuing to play an important role in the early stages of the 22-year-old West Kilbride woman’s professional career.

As was the case when she won the 2021 Women’s Amateur Championship at Kilmarnock (Barassie) and also in sparkling performances in the AIG Women’s Open over the past two years, Robertson will be caddying for Duncan in her card bid at La Manga.

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“He’s so level-headed,” said Duncan of Robertson, who won the 1999 Italian Open during a spell on the European Tour before carving out a new career as one of the most-respected performance coaches in the game. “He’s been there before and he knows what he’s doing. He’s very patient, he enjoys the game and enjoys seeing players do well.”

The new for Duncan, meanwhile, is a timely backing boost after becoming a Brand Ambassador for Baillie Gifford, an investment management firm based in Edinburgh and, with offices around the world, employing 1800 people.

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It’s Baillie Gifford’s first venture into golf and they have joined car company Arnold Clark in throwing their support behind the likeable Duncan as she bids to take the first big step in her career by securing playing privileges on the LET next season.

“This is a huge fillip for Louise before she heads to the LET Q-School as Baillie Gifford have agreed to become a major partner of Louise for the next wee while and give her a chance to really flourish,” said Iain Stoddart of Bounce Sport, Duncan’s management company, at the firm’s plush headquarters in the capital.

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“Baillie Gifford are Scotland’s major investment management fund and a huge success story and to have the backing of somebody like that to help Louise become another Scottish story, I think, speaks volumes of their commitment and how companies in Scotland are beginning to get behind our elite sportspeople.

“You can see how successful Louise has been as an amateur, but it’s a different story when you turn professional and you are out in the big, bad world and you walk out there on the first day and have this mountain to climb.

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“To have somebody like Baillie Gifford getting your back can definitely give you a good chance because, while it has got better recently, we’ve seen cases in the past where players try to shine on the world stage and just not have the backing or financial clout or direction.

“Louise has got all these things to make a fist of it and it shouldn’t be under-estimated. I know some people will say ‘it’s just a corporate backing’, but without it, the things you are trying to achieve just aren’t possible.”

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Duncan made her professional debut in the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open at Dundonald Links in July, missing the cut in that but then producing a brilliant effort when finishing in a tie for 19th in the AIG Women’s Scottish Open at Muirfield the following week.

She’s only made two LET appearances since then through invitations but, having worked hard to keep her game ticking over, she is feeling quietly confident about her upcoming test at La Manga, where she will launch her card bid in the pre-qualifier from 10-13 December then hope to finish off the job in the final stage from 17-21 December.

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“It has all really been building up to the next few weeks. There was an opportunity to maybe bypass that (by winning enough in her events so far), but the way things worked out, that hasn’t happened,” said Duncan.

“I’ve been trying to keep out on the golf course as much as possible to try and keep things ticking over. Given how grim the weather has been, it can be quite difficult, but it’s been a good journey so far.

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“I’ve spoken to other people about Q-School and they’ve all said, at the end of the day, it is just another tournament, that’s what they’ve all said. It has different consequences and it’s two weeks if you get all the way through. You just need to keep going, don’t ever think you’re out of it and don’t get ahead of yourself, that’s the main thing. Golf is unpredictable, so you just need to keep the head down and survive.

“The final stage is five rounds, with a cut after four rounds. It’s just based on how you’re playing. If you’re not playing great, it’s about grinding it out and getting it round in the least shots possible and being proper gritty.

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“If you’re playing well, it’s just about fairways and greens. With the extra round in there, the final round might be a little bit of a shock, but at the end of the day, you’re just there to play golf. I’ve played five days in a row before, it’s nothing unusual.”

While it’s been an exciting year on one hand, it’s been extremely difficult on the other following the death of Duncan’s dad after a prolonged illness. “It’s been tricky, a few things haven’t gone my way,” she admitted.

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“The golf hasn’t really been where I would want it for the most part. At the end of the day, it comes and it goes. I’ve played some unbelievable golf this year and my game is feeling good at the moment, which is weird as it’s the middle of November, but it’s probably because I haven’t hibernated this year like I have in other years. It feels good going into it, it’s coming together quite nicely, so I’m hoping for a good result.”

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