Pretswell under radar as Spiranac soars on social

US golfer Paige Spiranac, who has over 250,000 followers on Instagram, plays in Dubai this week. Picture: Getty
US golfer Paige Spiranac, who has over 250,000 followers on Instagram, plays in Dubai this week. Picture: Getty
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With fewer than 1,250 followers on Twitter, Pamela Pretswell certainly can’t be classed as a “media sensation” like Paige Spiranac, who has more than quarter-of-a-million tracking her on Instagram and reaches another 100,000-plus on her other social media platforms.

In comparison to the likes of Spiranac and, Scotland’s own Carly Booth, Pretswell is happy flying under the radar, something she has managed to such good effect this season that the 26-year-old has been one of Scottish golf’s biggest successes in 2015 without anyone really knowing.

Heading into the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters starting today at the Emirates Golf Club, Pretswell is riding high on the LET Order of Merit, sitting 15th with earnings of close to £70,000. She’s chalked up six top 10s 
and finished 11th in two other tournaments.

“I’ve been very happy with my progress this year,” admitted the Hamilton woman, who waited until she had completed an Honours degree in business and management at Glasgow University before turning professional in the middle of 2012.

After using the LET’s development circuit to secure a step up to the main Tour, the 2011 Curtis Cup player finished 60th in her rookie season in 2013 before climbing to 36th on the money-list 12 months ago. “It is good to see progress in each of my first three years on tour,” she added.

Lying 15 spots above closest rival Sally Watson, Pretswell is on course to become the fourth different player in four years to finish as top Scot on the LET money-list after Booth (fifth in 2012), Catriona Matthew 
(11th in 2013) and Kylie Walker (11th in 2014).

“My two main goals this week are to cement my position in the top 15 and also break through €100,000 in earnings this season,” she said. “A good week should take care of both, but it’s one of the strongest fields of the season so it will be a good test.”

China’s Shanshan Feng, the defending champion, world 
No 6 and uncatchable in the LET Order of Merit title race, heads the field, which also includes England’s Holly Clyburn, who has just secured her LPGA Tour card for next season. “It’s great to be back out playing after a four-weeks gap since our last event,” added Pretswell, who is joined by five Scots – Booth, Watson, Walker, Vikki Laing and Kelsey Macdonald. “Dubai is one of the best events and one of the best courses we play on Tour, so it’s brilliant to be back here – slightly warmer than home also, which is an added bonus!

“I have been working hard with Alan Murdoch, my coach, the last few months and really starting to see some big improvements in my game. In fact, the last few results haven’t showed how well I have been playing so, hopefully, I can put everything together this week and finish the season on a high.”

For Walker to do that, the 29-year-old will have to pick herself up from the disappointment of seeing her bid to join Matthew on the LPGA Tour next season derailed by a fourth-round 82 in that circuit’s Qualifying School in Florida at the weekend.

“It’s only natural that Kylie will be disappointed,” observed Pretswell. “But I know that she has the talent, the game and the determination to go back next year and secure her card and I’m confident that she will be out on the LPGA Tour soon.”

That’s where Spiranac is hoping to end up, but the 22-year-old American is a recent recruit to the professional ranks and knows she needs to back up her incredible social media statistics with some strong performances on the golf course.

“I can’t hide the fact that this is first my first big event,” she said. “How I am going to handle it, I don’t know. It will be a new experience for me. I just want to prove myself because I have been really working hard on 
my game.”

On being that social media star, the former San Diego University scholar added: “It kind of just came to me, but I couldn’t have been here without it. It has given me like a gateway to help my professional golf career.”

Lying 79th on the money list, Laing has little room for error in trying to hang on to her card by staying in the top 80 but is buoyed by the fact she likes this venue, having finished in the top ten two years ago. “It’s one of my favourite events of the year and hopefully I can finish the year on a good note,” said Laing.