Kelsey MacDonald and Gemma Dryburgh handed Scottish golf an end-of-year boost as they both secured top-10 cards at the Ladies European Tour Qualifying School in Morocco.
The duo’s success in Marrakech will see them join Pamela Pretswell, Kylie Walker, Sally Watson, Carly Booth and Vikki Laing as regulars on the circuit next season.
MacDonald, who fell just five spots short of retaining the card she’d secured 12 months ago, finished joint-fifth after a closing two-under-par 70 in the fifth and final round at Samanah Country Club.
With a 13-under-par total of 347, the 25-year-old from Nairn ended up a shot ahead of Dryburgh after the Aberdonian signed off with a 68 to claim a share of seventh position.
The top 30 and ties secured cards but the two Scots were both delighted to finish as high as they did due to starts in events likely to be harder to come by early next year due to the Olympics.
MacDonald broke par in all five rounds, recovering from a little wobble around the turn to bag birdies at the 12th and 16th.
“Obviously I was a little disappointed last week not gaining my card, but I shouldn’t really have been in that position going into the last week of the season,” she said.
“I just had to take my game from last week on to this week. I had to stick to my routine and and hope that the putts would drop.
“I didn’t really hole too many today, but it was all about just keeping it in play.
“It is a relief, but I do not want to come back to Tour School again, so I think I really need to bring what I’ve done the last two weeks into the rest of the season. “It’s just a confidence thing. I was able to perform in a top-class field in Dubai, so it’s just taking the positives into next season.”
Dryburgh, who only recently turned professional after graduating from Tulane University in New Orleans in May, was equally impressive throughout the demanding 80-hole.
She birdied the fifth and ninth to be out in 34 in her last circuit, picked up three more shots in a row from the 11th to jump above her compatriot at one point before taking her only bogey of the day at the 14th.
“It feels really great,” said the 22-year-old, who played in last year’s Curtis Cup. “I feel like I’ve been doing Tour Schools all year, so it’s great to get a card out of it.
“I felt some pressure at the start but once I got started I wasn’t too bad.
“I played really solid today and made five birdies, so that was nice and calm. Not too nerve-wracking.
“It’s definitely a relief and I’m feeling happy to be done. I think I’ll take a few weeks off and start planning for next year.”
Top spot was claimed by 17-year-old Indian amateur Aditi Ashok, who finished three shots clear of the field after a last-round 70 for a 23-under-par total.
The success crowned a fairytale year for Ashok, who won both the St Rule Trophy at St Andrews and Ladies British Stroke Play Championship on trips to the UK earlier in the season.