Krystle Caithness proud to fly St Andrews flag as Fife town's first LET player

IN LINE with the men's circuit, Dubai is the setting for the final event of the 2010 Ladies European Tour, with the main focus in the Omega Ladies Masters starting today being a straight shoot-out for the Henderson Money List title between the South African, Lee-Ann Pace, and England's Laura Davies.

Pace, a 29-year-old clubmate of Louis Oosthuizen, the Open champion, at Mossel Bay, has racked up an impressive five wins this year and has a 27,000 cushion heading into the last lap, though she couldn't have a more intimidating figure tracking her than Davies, the 11-time Solheim Cup player who is bidding to become European No 1 for a record eighth time.

Between them, Pace and Davies have already earned more than 540,000 on the LET circuit alone this season and, with a total prize fund of around 400,000 up for grabs in this week's event at The Emirates Golf Club, it is easy to see why emerging European players are no longer in a rush to jump on a plane to try their luck on the LPGA Tour.

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Krystle Caithness, a 21-year-old who lives in Cupar but cut her golfing teeth as a member of the St Regulus Club in St Andrews which is the home of golf's first female Tour professional, joined the European circuit last year, finishing 41st on the money list. With one event to go, she's sitting ten spots higher this time around with earnings of just over 58,000.

She's not in a position yet to go out and buy her own flat or house so still lives with her parents, but, in terms of her career, the foundations have certainly been laid and, along with the likes of Vikki Laing, Pamela Feggans, Kylie Walker, Lynn Kenny and Carly Booth, Caithness is hoping to make Scotland's presence felt on the European stage over the next few years.

"I always thought I wanted to try for the LPGA Tour and even had plans to do it this year. But now I just don't know. The LET is strong and I like the fact we get to travel around Europe. We're in a different country each week and we have lots of tournaments (26 this year]," Caithness told The Scotsman.

"It's not a good time to go over to the LPGA Tour. I see Laura Davies up there and Lee-Ann Pace, too. They've made a good living this year and, though it may not be as much as the players on the LPGA Tour, I really enjoy playing on the LET. I'm not as comfortable as I would like. I have goals to buy a house, for instance, and I can't afford to do that just now. I have to perform better to do that.But I'm in no rush to go anywhere at the moment as I'm happy where I am on the LET."

Caithness, who capped a glittering amateur career by playing in the 2008 Curtis Cup at St Andrews, produced a run of excellent performances in the spring, four top tens in a row including second place in the ABN AMRO Ladies Open in the Netherlands.

A subsequent dip in form led to her side-stepping four recent events in the Far East, heading instead to New Zealand, where she combined a visit to see her boyfriend, a caddie on the LET who will be on the Scot's bag next season, with some hard work, both on and off the course, at Russley Golf Club.

She noted: "I had a really good start to the season, making a few cuts and then having those four top tens in a row. I was really relaxed and enjoying my golf. I suppose I thought I'd cracked it, but the last part of the season has been tough as I've struggled a bit with my game.

"I've not been able to get it going - it has been quite a low point really and I only feel I am starting to come out of it now after practising hard for the last few weeks."

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The event in Dubai, which also includes Michelle Wie and Christina Kim as well as Alexi Thompson, the latest American teenager to be tipped for golfing stardom after tying for second in the Evian Masters in France earlier in the year, will give Caithness, who is coached in St Andrews by Garry Forrester, the chance to transfer their work on to the course in a competitive environment for the first time.

"My card is secure for next year so I just want to put into practice what I have been working on. I want to use it as a stepping stone for next year. It is basically a test to see how the changes I have been making are shaping up," she said.

For Caithness and the rest of the Scots on the LET, they've got their work cut out to shape up against Catriona Matthew, the North Berwick player's CV, which includes a major title as well as five Solheim Cup appearances, being just as impressive as the aforementioned Davies. "I don't think Catriona has made it difficult for the rest of us," replied Caithness when asked about the bar that had been set by the player she partnered in the European Nations Cup in Spain earlier in the year.

"You see her up there and you want to be there, too. You want to be playing in Solheim Cups, winning British Opens - that is good to see.

"It was great to play with Catriona this year. I learned a lot from her, as I did from playing with Laura Davies. I got that opportunity in the last round in Germany and, though it was nerve-wracking, it's that sort of experience that has helped me feel at home now on the LET - I feel really comfortable."

At a time when sponsorship is hard to find, Caithness bucked the trend earlier this year, securing a deal with club manufacturer Forgan of St Andrews.It has further cemented her link with a town that makes her bristle with pride at the various stops on the LET schedule.

"I've played golf at St Andrews since I was 12 or 13 - that's when I joined St Regulus. They really supported me as an amateur and even now I know they are there for me," she said. "I'm very proud to come from St Andrews and love when people ask me where I come from. It is mainly because of the history and the fact first female golfer to come out of here. It is also down to how the people of St Andrews have supported me."