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AIG Women’s Open: Dream debut for Louise Duncan as she lies one off the lead at Carnoustie

Scotland's Louise Duncan waves to the crowd on the 18th at Carnoustie.
Scotland's Louise Duncan waves to the crowd on the 18th at Carnoustie.

From being worried she might not get the ball airborne off the first tee, Louise Duncan crowned her AIG Women’s Open debut taming Carnoustie’s final four and lying one shot off the lead.

The 21-year-old Women’s Amateur champion conquered her nerves – with the soothing presence of her university coach Dean Robertson on the bag – and parlayed a run of birdie-birdie-eagle from the 12th into a four-under 67.

The young Scot is one behind the trio of World No 1 Nelly Korda, Madelene Sagstrom of Sweden and Korea’s Sei Young Kim, and tied with her playing partner, 2018 champion Georgia Hall, and the US Open champion Yuka Saso.

Solid over the feared final four holes

The best thing, however, was playing the final four holes once she had got to four-under in level par, as those holes extricated the usual damage to the whole field. That was despite ideal playing conditions and virtually no wind all day.

“That run of pars at the end was huge,” she said. “I felt it was actually bigger than the wee stretch of birdies and eagle. I holed a good par putt at the 16th there, making up and down for my three. That was huge.

“I was nervous to start with a wee bit of excitement, then it started to go so well the nerves came back and the heart rate up. But I really enjoyed it and I’m so looking forward to tomorrow now.”

Calming influence of coach Dean Robertson

Robertson’s influence was again crucial, as it had been through the rounds to her victory in the Amateur at Kilmarnock Barassie.

“Dean kept me level-headed and gave that bit of support, and he makes sure I make the right decisions,” she said. “He just tells me to trust my swing, trust the shot, see the shot.

“You definitely don’t think you’re on top of it all because this place will come back and bite you. But I felt relatively relaxed and had a good wee finish. Getting some cheers at 18 was really special, and a bit unexpected.”

The other good thing is that with a late-early set of start times, there’s not a lot of time to dwell on matters.

“It’s definitely a good thing,” she said. “Obviously means that I don’t have to hang around in the morning. I can just get up and go and get finished.”

Hall, who also shot 68, was impressed.

“She’s so natural, a natural player,” said the 2018 champion. “Very, very talented, and just a really nice girl. I’m really happy for her that she managed to shoot such a low score.”

Kylie Henry still feels the buzz at her 9th Open

Scotland’s Kylie Henry on the seventh hole in her first round.

Kylie Henry bogeyed the first two holes and the last two, but inbetween that she was five-under and finished with a 71.

“My first Open was here ten years ago,” she said. “I qualified at Panmure, so this has got a wee special place in my heart.

“This is my ninth in total. Every time you still get the real buzz and excitement and a real special feeling on the 1st tee.

“It’s almost emotional actually. It’s great.”

Henry thinks Carnoustie played “as easy as we’ll get it” on the first day.

“The first 14 holes are, I would say easy, but easier than the last four,” she said. “It’s the best part of the course really, from 15 to 18. You want to make your score before you get to those holes.”

Aberdeen’s Gemma Dryburgh came in with a 76, while former champion Catriona Matthew had a 78.

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