The stronger winds of the afternoon and the sight of her friend at the top of the leaderboard filled Nairn’s Kelsey MacDonald with confidence and the four-under 68 at the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open was the result.
The 30-year-old came off a strong finishing round in the ARAMCO event in Sotogrande on Sunday when the winds blew. Although it was several degrees cooler in Fife than Spain, the Scot revelled in the conditions with a bogey-free round.
Inspired by her friend Michele Thomson
— Kelsey MacDonald 🐒🦋💜 (@K_Mac_59) December 9, 2017
And setting out seeing her pal Michele Thomson move to the top of the leaderboard also helped, she admitted.
“I was delighted with my round, but also seeing Michele do so well,” she said. “It’s so good to see a Scot up there as I was teeing off.
“I’m really happy. I just hit it great off the tee, gave myself chances, didn’t really do anything wrong and didn’t make a bogey. Just really solid golf out there in those conditions.”
The highlight was the drive, eight-iron and 18-foot putt for eagle at the 15th, but she felt confidence from Sotogrande and from knowing the new Dumbarnie Links course so well.
“My sponsor Robin McGeachy from Peak Scientific, he’s a kind of member here,” she said. “So I’ve played quite a lot of golf here and I played the pro-am with him. I just feel really comfortable round here.
“It’s a very good course. Some of the greens funnel into areas which gives you an opportunity to hole some putts. It’ll take time to settle in because it’s so new, and it’s quite generous off the tee. But it’s a great challenge when you’ve got the wind and stuff.”
‘George and I make a great team’
A bonus for Kelsey had been having Asia Tour pro George Twyman on the bag, and they have become a solid team.
“George and I have done a few tournaments now. We make a great team and it makes things so much easier, hitting the shots and getting on with it.
“He normally plays in Asia they’re shut down right now because of Covid, so I’ve got a good deal out of that!”
Kelsey feels that the better the field, the better she plays.
“The weeks that I’ve had good results, it’s been when the big names have been there,” she said. “There’s a chance to get my world ranking up.
“When you play good golf in a really good field, then you get the confidence from that.”
Scots make solid start at Dumbarnie
"There is a lot to play for this year, especially with the addition of The Jock MacVicar Leading Scot Trophy. I think there is always pressure to do well at home.”
Players from Scotland are eager to play at this week's @Womens_Scottish.
READ ⬇️ https://t.co/nrquQQL64j
— LPGA (@LPGA) August 9, 2021
Two Scots inside the top five was a grand start for the national Open, and there was also an even-par round for Kylie Henry, while Gemma Dryburgh had a one-over 73.
Top names are gathered behind leader Thomson, with US Open champion Yuka Saso – in her first round in Scotland – one of those two behind.
Saso had never played links conditions before but had some good advice from 1997 Open champion Justin Leonard and the 2013 Women’s Open champion Stacy Lewis.
‘I’ve talked to some legends’
“It’s very different golf from what I’m used to play, so I’ve talked to some legends,” she said. “I talked to Justin Leonard and I played with Stacy in a practise round and got good advice.
“Stacy told me a lot of things. Different kind of chip shots. In America we kind of have to go high and try to stop the ball but here, you have to more rolling a low ball and trying to chase to the hole.
“I watched her doing that, I practised yesterday and this morning, trying to do those things.”
The Filipina with the Rory McIlroy swing had a double bogey at the short sixth and a bogey at the ninth, but also had eight birdies including five on the back nine.
Solheim Cup star Anne Van Dam and Thailand’s Jasmine Suwannapura also had 67s. 2019 champion Mi Jung Hur is well-placed on four-under, along with the teenage Ladies European Tour leader Atthaya Thitkul of Thailand.