It was a day when this showrunner’s darling, Louise Duncan, first saw the caddy throw her partner’s ball against a wall and deep into a nettle bush and ended up with the 22-year-old admitting it depending on the size of her first player. Check in like a pro here on Sunday, it’ll be either a ferry to Aran or a trip to Tobago.
The odd experience must have told the Scotsman one thing: It’s never boring at the AIG Women’s Open. Not when you’re Louise Duncan, anyway.
A year earlier, the then-student finished in a tie for 10th at Carnoustie, having entered the final round of the lead. The only downside to this fantastic show was that as an amateur she couldn’t raise the £80,000 she would otherwise have raised.
Now, on only her second start in the paid ranks – after missing out on cuts last week at the Women’s Scottish Open – Duncan finds herself once again in the mix at the weekend. She is among the top 20 in two places, six behind Korea’s Chun N-Ji (66), and the three-time Grand Prix winner ahead of Sweden’s Madeleine Sagström (65) and South Africa’s Ashley Buhai (65).
She said after 74. “Two rounds under Muirfield in test conditions was very good and I’m happy. It was tough, but after last year, I knew what to expect. Though, no, I wasn’t expecting what happened there on the second hole.”
Dean Robertson is her mentor as well as her handbag. A former European Tour winner who played on the same Walker Cup team as Padraig Harrington, Robertson, 52, watched it all and when Sophia Schubert handed him a ball, he thought the American had just found it and wanted him to get rid of it. . So he threw it on his left shoulder.
In fact, Schubert was asking to clean it up and because of the mistake he was now facing a kick and distance penalty. Robertson duly climbed the wall, put on shorts, got down on his hands and knees and ventured fearlessly into nettles to locate him. She assured Schubert’s relief that the stings were worth it
Duncan said, “I was like, ‘Oh, no, Dean, tell me you didn’t just do that? “,” but it was a very honest and funny mistake. He’s always telling me to stop being an idiot and calm down, so maybe it was worth it.”
Robertson, Technical Director at the University of Stirling, has a crucial role in Duncan’s rise. His ability to keep her on the ground saw the best effect on the ninth after she made three ghosts in a row. It seemed set to unravel at an alarming pace in the fifth when it shortened itself with the third, but a great up and down stopped the rot and on the next hole was another gritty save, courtesy of a pitch from 70 yards to six feet. On the thirteenth day, Duncan struck a sumptuous seven iron to two feet, and in truth, she should have been a little better, but this was not about to destroy her optimism.
“I need to play the way I’ve been playing and hit more lanes and more greens, because ultimately that means more chances,” she said. “Just stay there, because a top ten list, or better, is of course possible from here.”
With prize money on the rise, the top ten this time would be worth at least £130,000, and that would change marriage plans for her and partner Jordan Hughes, an international swimmer she met at university.
“If it’s a big, big check, we’ll go abroad and get it over with,” Duncan said. “Oh, if that’s bad, I mean it in the nicest way possible. Sorry, Jordan. Otherwise, yes, it could be a phrase to Aran.”
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