AS a tennis-mad youngster – she was part of the same squad as Andy Murray – Pamela Pretswell used to dream of being good enough to rub shoulders with sporting superstars at Wimbledon.
She actually did that, albeit in a demonstration match with the British No.1 in SW19, but the 26-year-old has no regrets about giving up tennis for golf, especially with an equivalent to Wimbledon in the Royal & Ancient game looming on the horizon.
On the back of an eye-catching opening half of the season, Pretswell has not only secured her Ladies European Tour card for next season but also earned a berth in next month’s Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry.
Sharing the same stage with the likes of Lydia Ko, Inbee Park and Michelle Wie will be proof that changing sport was a wise move, as, according to Pretswell, was her decision to complete a business and management degree at Glasgow University before turning professional three years ago.
“It was never not an option – I always wanted to do it,” she said of delaying a switch that seemed likely on the back of her being on a winning Curtis Cup team with the likes of Charley Hull and Amy Boulden at Nairn in 2011.
“When I was playing tennis, it got to the stage around the time that I was 14 when I had to choose tennis or an education. I’m glad I did do the education. It gave me back-up and to an extent has taken the pressure off me. Four years of uni was enough, mind you.”
After taking a couple of seasons to find her feet in the professional game, Pretswell is starting to push on. Heading into this week’s Deloitte Ladies’ Open in Amsterdam, she’d chalked up four top-10s in five outings and finished 11th in the other one. In the Turkish Airlines Ladies’ Open in Belek, she was in the last group for the final round before finishing joint sixth behind England’s Melissa Reid.
“It was good fun having the cameras there and the different kind of atmosphere that comes from being in among the leaders,” she reflected. “It’s about learning how to cope with it all. This is my third year on Tour. First year I was 60th on the money list. Last year I was 36th and I’m currently seventh. It’s been good steady progress.
“I was always looking to make progress each year. I’m usually quite a slow starter, but to have my card already safe for this year is a major step. I’m also in the Women’s British Open because of that. The first half has been great. It’s taken a lot of the pressure off going into the rest of the season.”
As well as a trip to Turnberry, it includes a date at Dundonald Links for the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open, an event that will also feature Ko, as well as Norway’s Suzann Pettersen and Cheyenne Woods, Tiger’s niece.
“I’ve only played it once, in a recent media day,” said Pretswell of the new venue for the national Open. “It’s a great course, but I think I’ll need to play it a few more times to get to know it. The greens are very tricky, very linksy and slopey. They show up the weaknesses in your short game, so I have a few ideas on what I need to work on ahead of the event.
“It’s an event I’d love to win, obviously, so there will be a few visits back down there in the build-up to give myself the best chance of doing that. I think the people at Dundonald will know me pretty well by the time the event comes round.”