Aberdonian Gemma Dryburgh is relishing the chance to compete in her native Scotland after two years honing her game on the LPGA Tour.
Almost two decades after first taking up the sport with her father John as a youngster in the north-east, Gemma will be flying the Scottish Saltire during the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club in East Lothian this week.
Gemma, 26, said: “I am very excited to play in front of the Scottish crowds.
“I don’t get to play in Scotland very often any more so it makes it even more special when I play the Scottish Open this week.
“It can be a bit distant playing in the United States and it would be pleasing for the home spectators to learn my name a wee bit more. It is also nice because it gives my family a chance to watch too.”
Following a topsy-turvy rookie season after earning her Tour card at qualifying school in December 2017, Gemma has already made more cuts this year than she did in 18 tournaments during her opening campaign.
That first experience ended with a return trip to qualifying school at the Q Series.
Gemma admits she is gradually adapting to life on the tour, with a number of major factors contributing to help her on the learning curve.
Gemma said: “I think the improvement is a combination of a few things.
“I am putting much better, which is probably a combination of a new putter and a new putting coach, Nick Soto, who has made some subtle but important changes.
“I also have a new caddie – Paul Heselden – this year who has really been a huge help.
“Paul has been terrific with course management and fine-tuning my club selection.
“I have also gained extra distance. I really saw the benefits of that in my first Major – the KPMG PGA Women’s Championship at Hazeltine – where we played the longest course a women’s event has ever played on, at 6,800 yards.
“Lastly, I simply have more confidence in myself and my ability. That goes a long way towards better results.”
That confidence was further enhanced by a gritty display of determination at Hazeltine.
Gemma fell victim to a stomach bug that swept through the field and wiped out a host of players.
She said: “It was a shame, but I managed to battle through to the end which was a huge relief. I understand that 10 or more players came down with it.
“However, I really enjoyed the experience and it gave me a lot of confidence that my game is good enough to compete at the highest level.
“The course was a real test as it was one of the longest, if not the longest, course a women’s event has ever been played on.
“Hazeltine itself is a tough test and the added length with the wind made it even tougher.
“But I felt like my game stood up pretty well to the test, which gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season.”
Gemma’s never-say-die attitude was rewarded by jumping to 90th on the money list and 86th on the Race to the CME Globe.