Vikki Laing is determined to “move on” after ending a miserable 2017 campaign on a high by retaining her Ladies European Tour card thanks to a polished performance in the circuit’s Lalla Aicha Tour School in Morocco.
The 36-year-old from Musselburgh secured a top-10 finish in the five-round test in Marrakech, missing out on the best cards up for grabs by a shot but comfortably making the top 25 and, therefore, achieving her main goal.
On a day when compatriot Laura Murray came up agonisingly short in that respect, Laing signed off with a three-under-par 69 to finish joint-ninth among 106 hopefuls at Palmgolf Ourika and Amelkis Golf Club on 352, eight-under-par.
Given that she’d missed the cut in four straight events before finding a bit of form to finish just outside the top 40 in the season-ending Omega Dubai Ladies Classic, it was a praiseworthy effort from the one-time amateur star after slipping 49 spots to 100th on this season’s money-list.
“I’m really happy to have retained my card and am now looking forward to next year and move on from this year,” said Laing, who enjoyed her best campaign when finishing 27th in 2014. “I was trying to shoot for top five, but I’m happy to get a card and will hopefully get into a few events next year.
“I feel my game got better in the back half of the year – I just need to tighten up my short game a bit – and I really started to play well in Dubai, so that is exciting. I didn’t really do anything particularly well this year. I wasn’t a fan of the stop-start nature of the schedule. I just couldn’t get any momentum going.
“I’d also just changed coaches a little over a year ago. I’m now working with Alan Murdoch [the Kings Acre head pro who helped Pamela Pretswell finish top Scot on the circuit in both 2015 and 2016] and I feel it is starting to come together.
“I hit a lot of fairways and greens this week. That wasn’t happening at the beginning of the year, so I am excited about that. Things are going well with Alan and I’ll sit down with him at the end of the month to go over a few things for next season. I’m optimistic as I’m hitting it well.”
Laing’s success means that eight players will be flying the Saltire on the LET in 2018, when Michele Thomson, Carly Booth, Pamela Pretswell, Gemma Dryburgh, Kylie Henry, Kelsey MacDonald and, of course, Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew will also be card holders for a circuit set to start with a four-event “Australian Swing”.
“I need to go somewhere warm at the beginning of the year and I love Australia,” added Laing, who turned professional with high hopes in 2003 but, as illustrated by her LET career earnings of just over £310,000, has never quite managed to fulfil her potential. “Hopefully I will get a little bit of help to get out there.”
Murray, who’d boosted her hopes with a 67 in the fourth round, closed with a 71 for a three-under total, falling one short of getting into a play-off for the 25th and final card. It was brave effort by the 29-year-old from Alford after a damaging 77 in the second round.
Overnight leader American Casey Denilson finished top of the class after beating Spaniard Carmen Alonso and French amateur Manon Molle with a birdie at the first extra hole in a play-off, which followed the trio all finishing on 14-under-par.
Others to secure cards included English duo Gabrielle Cowley and Cloe Frankish but their compatriot, Kiran Matharu, suffered disappointment in another play-off which saw Norwegian duo Celine Borge and Madelene Stavnar secure the final two cards on offer.