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AIG Women’s Open: Coach Dean Robertson says there’s much more to come from Louise Duncan

Louise Duncan didn't waver with the attention on her at Carnoustie.
Louise Duncan didn't waver with the attention on her at Carnoustie.

Three-under and just four off the lead in the AIG Women’s Open is “absolute worst” amateur Louise Duncan could be after two rounds, believes coach and caddie Dean Robertson.

The former Italian Open champion is head of performance coaching at the University of Stirling, and has been guiding Duncan around her first major on the bag. His calm influence on the Women’s Amateur champion has no doubt been crucial to her lying inside the top 20 at the halfway stage.

‘It was real grind, but she got through it’

“Louise has played unbelievably well tee to green,” he said after a second round 73 left her on three-under. “I don’t think she missed a fairway today and she only missed two yesterday. Three-under is the worst she could be, really.

“She didn’t find her rhythm today, so it was a real grind and a real battle. But she got through it.

“She had a moment in the middle where she just struggled. But there was an excitement level and maybe the distraction of making the weekend had something to do with that.

“Georgia (Hall, the former champion and co-leader) was lovely, saying to her, ‘you are the best amateur I have ever played with’. Louise gave a clinic in terms of driving a golf ball, it was extremely impressive.

“There are areas to improve on, but that’s a big strength in her game.”

‘You know you’ve got a top player there’

Louise had to blast out of a plugged lie in the greenside bunker at the 18th.

Robertson’s students have done magnificently this year – as well as Louise, Laird Shepherd won the men’s Amateur and Jack Cope the St Andrews Links Trophy. But Duncan’s performance and her advance in 2021, has been something else.

“Unbelievable,” he said. “With her win at Barassie you know you’ve got a top player there, and it’s great to be out there able to help them read situations on the golf course.

“Louise has got two more years (at Stirling) and she’s going to play a leading role in our programme but not only that as she’s going to play a leading role for Scottish Golf as well.”

The willowy 21-year-old sometimes looks like a strong breeze would blow her away, but appearances are deceptive.

“She’s an athlete,” he said. “She works hard on all aspects of her game and in the gym. She’s really strong. Her club head speed is up there with the boys. She’s probably sitting at 105 on the golf course at the moment and will hopefully be up to 110 for next year.

“Once it’s over, the experience this week is going to stand her in good stead. She’s straight into the Curtis Cup and she’s going to have a feeling of really belonging out here.

“She just needs a little bit more belief in herself, a little bit more self confidence.”

‘I’ve nothing really to lose now’

Georgia Hall and Louise Duncan (r) congratulate each other after the second round.

Louise herself has her feet firmly on the ground, not even considering what lies beyond this week.

“Today was just all right,” she said. “A few ups and downs, and we’ll see how the weekend goes because I’ve nothing really to lose now.

“I hadn’t played a pro event before this week, I didn’t know how I would play. So yeah, I’m still thinking about it.

“I’ve still got two years left at Stirling, we’ll see how it goes. It’s been a nice eye-opener to take some confidence from this week.”

Hall, bidding for her second Open title in three years, thinks she’s made of the right stuff.

“I think she’s a lot like me, quite quiet, just lets her golf do the talking,” said the 2018 champion. “Louise is a very natural golfer. She just goes up and hits it which I think is a lot like me, too.

“She’s an amazing talent and it was really nice to play with her.”

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