Louise Duncan carded a superb second round 65 to top the leaderboard at the end of the 36-hole qualifier for the 2021 Scottish Women’s Amateur Championship at Gullane.
Duncan, from West Kilbride, reached the semi-finals the last time the championship was played in 2019 and now she has the chance to go even further following an exceptional performance capped by a stunning eagle on her final hole.
The Scottish international carded a one under par first round of 73 on Gullane’s No. 1 course before firing two eagles and four birdies in a bogey-free round on the host club’s No. 2 course to set a pace none of the other competitors could match.
Duncan made her first birdie of the afternoon on No. 2’s 382-yard par four third hole and she promptly followed that up with an eagle on the 418-yard par five fourth and a birdie two holes later on the 309-yard par four sixth. That helped to reach the turn in four under par 33 and she went on to post further birdies at the 372-yard par four 12th and the 449-yard par five 16th before eagling the last to bury the memories of being disqualified at last weekend’s St Rule Trophy after inadvertently signing for a wrong score.
“It was good,” she admitted. “I played well at the St Rule, it’s just unfortunate that I marked my scorecard wrong. It was just one of those things which, hopefully, I will never do again.
“I was pretty determined today because I just wanted to show folk that I’m playing well at the moment.
“I’m looking forward to the weekend,” she added. “In the match play, I’ll probably try to be a wee bit more aggressive off the tee on No. 1 and just try to make as many birdies as I can. That should win more holes than not.
“I’ll try and stay in the moment as best I can.”
Duncan’s nine under par 138 aggregate saw her top the list of 16 qualifiers a single shot ahead of fellow international Shannon McWilliam (Aboyne), Penelope Brown (Auchterarder) and first round leader Luisa Gibson (Irvine) while Rachel Foster (Prestwick St Nicholas) and Tara Mactaggart (Minto), another of the semi-finalists in 2019, also comfortably made it into the draw for the match play stage on seven under par 140.
Ellen Caton (St Regulus Ladies) and Lorna McClymont (Milngavie) also made the weekend with a minimum of fuss in a share of seventh place on 141, as did Jennifer Saxton (Dunfermline) who was alone in ninth place on 142, but it was a different story for Broomieknowe and Gullane member, Hannah Darling, who came into the championship as favourite following her win on Sunday at the St Rule Trophy but needed all her resolve to make it through after carding a morning round of 74 on No. 1.
In the end the teenaged GB & I Curtis Cup squad member showed why she is regarded as one of Scotland’s brightest prospects by carding six birdies in a battling four under par 69 which saw her climb up into a share of tenth place alongside Carmen Griffiths (Aboyne) and Hazel MacGarvie (Royal Troon) on four under par 143.
Chloe Goadby (St Regulus Ladies) reached the final two years ago at Kilmarnock (Barassie) and now has the chance to go one better after posting rounds of 72 and 73 to share 13th place with club-mate Gillian Paton and Katie Wright (Stranraer) on two under par 145.
It is the same for 2015 champion Clara Young (North Berwick) who posted rounds of 75 and 71 but then faced an anxious wait before claiming the sixteenth and last spot following a card countback on 146.
Carinne Taylor (Nairn) and Megan Ashley (Blairgowrie) were the unfortunate players to miss out on countback but they had the consolation of qualfying for the second flite competition involving those players finishing in 17th to 36th place in the stroke play.
The match play starts tomorrow (Saturday) and ends with the two finals on Sunday afternoon.
All scores from the 2021 Scottish Women’s Amateur Championship will be registered by players on the course using the Scottish Golf App. This means that live scores from Gullane will be available for everyone to follow on the Scottish Golf Website.