Pamela Pretswell reckons she needs a “run of events” to start building some momentum. The US Women’s Open, Ladies’ Scottish Open and Women’s British Open should do just nicely, then, over the next four weeks for arguably the most-improved player in Scottish golf after Russell Knox over the past few seasons.
Pretswell finished 14th last season on the Ladies European Tour money-list, maintaining her year-on-year progress on the circuit. She’s sitting in the same position halfway through the current campaign, having recently finished runner-up in an event in the Czech Republic. That performance secured her place in the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Woburn later this month but first up is a US Women’s Open debut.
The third women’s major of the season starts at CordeValle in California on Thursday. Having come through a qualifier at The Buckinghamshire in England, Pretswell is looking forward to getting her first taste of playing on US soil as a professional as she joins Catriona Matthew in flying the Saltire in Gilroy, south of San Jose.
“I played the Curtis Cup in Boston in 2010, which doesn’t seem that long ago until you say ‘six years’ out loud,” said the 27-year-old, laughing. “I then played the US Amateur in Rhode Island in 2011 and that’s been it for me in the States. I enjoyed the two courses, they suited me. The greens were a lot tougher than they are over here, faster and slopier than here.”
CordeValle is where Great Britain & Ireland recorded a historic first away win the PGA Cup, the club pros’ equivalent of the Ryder Cup, last September. “I’ve looked at the website and I’ve spoken to some of the girls on tour who have been there before. Just bits of sneaky research,” said Pretswell, who is coached by Alan Murdoch, the director of golf at Kings Acre on the outskirts of Edinburgh. “It will be set up pretty tough. Hitting the fairways will be key and that’s usually a strength of mine. I’ve got a practice round arranged with Beth Allen (an American based in Scotland). She’s from San Diego, so she’s been keeping me right.”
Due to the majority of the Ladies European Tour events being later in the year this season, Pretswell has only teed up in five tournaments, not counting qualifiers for majors. It’s not the ideal position heading into what will be one of the toughest tests of her career so far. “I’ve been playing well all season but you wouldn’t see that from the results,” she said. “I was doing well but not scoring but then it came together in the Czech Republic, where I finished second.
“It’s kind of kicked in since I qualified for the US Open to be honest but it has been a stop-start season and it can be hard to get some momentum going. When I’m not playing, I lose a bit of confidence, but I’ll have quite a nice run of events now with the US Open being followed by the Scottish Open then the British Open, with that result in the Czech Republic getting me into it.”
While Matthew will be setting her sights on adding this title to her 2009 Women’s British Open win, Pretswell is still learning her trade at the top level. “I’ve played two British Opens, one as an amateur and one as a pro, and missed the cut both times,” she recalled. “But I’ve taken a lot from the mistakes I made there. It’s just about putting in a good performance.”