Michele Thomson, one of the players handed an invitation, overcame some early nerves to sit as the leading home player alongside Kylie Henry after the opening round of the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open.
The 29-year-old from Ellon was delighted to card a one-over-par 73 on her debut in the event after finding herself three over after just six holes and then having to convert par putts of between 15-20 feet at her seventh and eighth to avoid further slippage early on.
“I got off to a shaky start, which was maybe down to a bit of nerves,” admitted Thomson afterwards. “It could have been a different story if I hadn’t saved par on those two holes, but they kickstarted my round – my putter was working really well today – and I played good on my back nine.”
Frustratingly, the former policewoman has spent much of this year kicking her heels due to the LET schedule becoming threadbare following the shocking loss of five scheduled tournaments.
“It has been hard to get momentum, but you have got to take opportunities when they come along. I’ve made the cut in all four events I’ve played in and I was so grateful to get an invite for this event,” said Thomson, a former Scottish Women’s champion. “I know it sounds a bit cheesy, but it’s like a dream come true for me.”
The bubbly Scot’s best pay-day this season was for just under £4,700 after tying for 15th in the Mediterranean Open while her total earnings currently sit around £16,500. With prize money for this event having been tripled to £1.2 million, it’s an opportunity for a career-changing week.
“It’s definitely a chance to make a good cheque, but I just need to take every day as it comes,” insisted Thomson, who has her father, Graham, caddying for her and brother Mark as chief cheerleader.
Henry, who paid regular visits here in preparation for her home event, recovered from being two over after three to join Thomson on one over, a shot ahead of two-time winner Catriona Matthew, who birdied the last but bemoaned poor putting overall.
“Obviously not great,” said the 47-year-old of her effort, “but I felt as though I played well. I just need to hole a few more putts. In this kind of weather, you’re going to make the odd mistake, so you need to make a few birdies.”
Following a 75 with her pink ball, Carly Booth, the 2011 winner, is the only other Scot sitting inside the projected cut mark of three-over after a day of struggles for Sally Watson (79), Pamela Pretswell (79), Gemma Dryburgh (80), Kelsey MacDonald (80) and Vikki Laing (83).