Sally Watson sets her sights on return to US

NEWCOMER Sally Watson is hoping to round off her first season as a Team SSE Scottish Hydro player by securing a return to America.

Hydro team-mates: Pamela Pretswell and Sally Watson
Hydro team-mates: Pamela Pretswell and Sally Watson

The two-times Curtis Cup player, who went to Stanford University in California, has her sights set on winning a card for the LPGA Tour. “One of my goals this year is the LPGA Qualifying School and hopefully I will be exempt into the second stage,” admitted Watson, who finished third in the race to be Rookie of the Year on the Ladies European Tour last season.

“That will entail fairly heavy financial commitments so I am really excited to have received this support. I am also fortunate to get other bits of support, but golf is very expensive to play.”

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Launched in 2011, the Team SSE Scottish Hydro programme helped both Craig Lee and Chris Doak earn steps up to the European Tour while Kylie Walker won twice on the Ladies European Tour last year as a member of the initiative.

“Watching Kylie last year was a real inspiration and my early results this year are hopefully just the start of what I can achieve this season,” said Pamela Pretswell, Watson’s fellow 2015 female team member, in reference to the fact she’s won enough money in just four events to secure her card for next year.

In a change to the criteria, both Jamie McLeary and Andrew McArthur are being offered backing for a fourth year on the strength of it having being agreed that the duo have earned an “extra element of support”.

“It was a very pleasant surprise,” admitted McArthur, who narrowly missed out on winning his European Tour card for this season. “Being part of the team for a fourth year takes a bit of the financial pressure off. I think it is very important to have a caddie, for instance, and this will go a long way to helping with that cost.”

With two newcomers – Watson and Wallace Booth – in this latest batch, the Team SSE Scottish Hydro programme has now provided support to 16 players over the past five years. “This initiative is a key part of our growing golf programme,” said acting head of sponsorship Colin Banks. “Last season was a very exciting one for both Kylie and Andrew and we hope that this year’s professionals can continue this success.”

There would be nowhere better, of course, for one of the men to taste victory than in the SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge, especially as it will reach a milestone when the tenth staging takes place at Macdonald Spey Valley in June.