Women's Scottish Open: Kelsey MacDonald enjoys feeling 'oomph' back at events

Kelsey MacDonald is enjoying feeling some “oomph” again at tournaments, even though her sterling performance so far in the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open has only been witnessed by a small group of spectators at Dumbarnie Links.

Kelsey MacDonald in action during the second round of the Trust Golf Women's Scottish Open at Dumbarnie Links. Picture: Tristan Jones
Kelsey MacDonald in action during the second round of the Trust Golf Women's Scottish Open at Dumbarnie Links. Picture: Tristan Jones

Taking full advantage of probably having played more rounds on the Clive Clark-designed course than anyone in the 144-strong field, the 30-year-old Scot backed up her bogey-free 68 on Thursday with a 71 in the second circuit to reach the halfway stage in the £1.1 million event sitting joint-fifth on five-under-par.

It was another impressive effort from MacDonald, who had missed the cut three times in four starts since the tournament became co-sanctioned by the LET and LPGA but currently seems to be playing with more confidence than at any time during her professional career.

“I took a lot from my game yesterday into today,” admitted the Nairn woman, who sits 38th in the LET’s Road to Costa del Sol on the back of a brace of top-15 finishes in the Aramco Series events at The Centurion Club and Sotogrande over the past few weeks.

Overnight leader Michele Thomson in action during the second round of the Trust Golf Women's Scottish Open at Dumbarnie Links in Fife. Picture: Tristan Jones

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On a blowy morning, MacDonald was out in level-par, stumbled as she ran up a double-bogey 6 at the 10th but then showed great composure to cover the last eight holes in three-under.

She eagled the par-5 15th for the second day running, only having a 50-degree wedge in her hand for the approach on this occasion – it was an 8-iron yesterday – as a hole already set up to be scoreable played straight downwind.

The Nairn woman then birdied the 17th - one of the great risk-and-reward holes on this new layout - by pitching to a foot.

“I birdied 10 yesterday, so it was really disappointing to make a double there today. It wasn’t so much an error, but just a bad swing off the tee,” said MacDonald. “I managed to recover, though, and I was delighted about that.

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Carly Booth earns a fist bump from her caddie during the seond day of the Trust Golf Women's Scottish Open in Fife. Picture: Tristan Jones

“The goal was seven-under. I thought if I could get to that, I couldn’t see many people going lower than that, especially with the forecast. But I’m delighted to have made some progress today.”

The effort left her sitting just four shots behind Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn after the 2018 winner birdied five of the last seven holes for a 66, having opened with a 69.

“I think when the elements are so tough, it can eliminate half the field straightaway and you just have to grind out. You never know what's going to happen. I do like when it's tougher,” said MacDonald.

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“I’d like to think so,” she replied to being asked if grinding had always been one of her qualities. “In the past, I’ve missed cuts by one and I don’t ever want to look back and think, ‘I could have made that cut’ whereas now I’m wanting to win, so it’s a bit of a different situation and I just want to keep going.”

Having not managed yet to win on the LET, the home hope faces a monumental task over the weekend against some of the top players in the game, but there was definitely a tone of excitement in her voice rather than dread.

“I just have to keep doing what I have been doing and see how it fares,” said MacDonald. “I’ll probably be off a bit later on tomorrow and it’s going to be another grinding day if it’s windy again. You kind of need the wind round here because you can go pretty low, so the windier the better.”

Only 500 spectators per day are being allowed at the event following a decision that was made before most Covid restrictions were lifted in Scotland on Monday, but MacDonald is enjoying seeing the odd familiar face.

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“Yesterday I had my sponsor and his daughter and then today I had my mum and my auntie and at the weekend I am having some friends coming along,” she said.

“Even last weekend in Sotogrande, my caddie George, his girlfriend and dad came to watch and having that support, the clapping, gives you some feedback and I have really missed that, so it was great.

“It’s getting back to some normality now after being tough with Covid and the spectators help put that “oomph” back into events, which is good.”

MacDonald does her main swing work with Essex-based Dave Laffar, while she also works with Carnoustie head professional Keir McNicoll on her short game and Nick Soto on her putting.

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Equally important as far as this week’s effort so far has been concerned, though, has been her familiarity with Dumbarnie Links thanks to her sponsor, Peak Scientific boss Robin McGeachy.

“Robin plays his golf here, so I’ve been very lucky to receive invites, having maybe played four or five times since it opened before this week,” said MacDonald.

Asked if any of her fellow players had tried to pick her brains for this event, the smiling Scot replied: “You don’t give information like that away!”

Michele Thomson had been the happiest player among the home contingent after setting the pace with her course-record 65 on Thursday. It said a lot about the Aberdonian that she still managed to raise a smile as she reflected on following that with an 80.

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“Jesus,” said the 33-year-old after signing for nine bogeys, including three to finish, and just one birdie. “That is brutal out there. You are hitting good shots and it was just ridiculous. At the par-3 16th yesterday, we were hitting 8-iron and today we were struggling to reach the front edge with a 5-iron.

“I was doing okay, having reached the turn in three-over, but it was really difficult around the 10th, 11th and 12th.”

Thomson slipped to one-over, sitting alongside compatriot Carly Booth after the 2012 winner followed an opening 72 with a 73 to make it a trio of Scots from a six-strong starting contingent to be involved in the final 36 holes.

“I’m delighted to be around for the weekend and would have taken that at the start of the week,” added Thomson. “But, after your expectations rise following the start I had, it is disappointing to have seen shots dwindling away.

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“However, I’ve got another two rounds to go and hopefully I can go out early again tomorrow and shoot a low one like yesterday.”

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