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Evening Express article

Aberdeen’s Gemma Dryburgh will start her fledgling career on the US Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic from January 25-28.

Gemma became the first Scot to clinch a full LPGA tour card since 1998, at the final qualifying school stage at Daytona Beach in Florida in December.

She will also play in the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open from February 15-18 and in two LET co-sanctioned tournaments in Australia in the two following weeks.

The 24-year-old carded rounds of 72, 73, 71 and 68 to finish tied for 13th place and secure one of the 20 spots on offer.

Gemma, who also retained her European Ladies Tour card, said: “I am so pleased with my performance to earn my full LPGA tour card.

“I felt very calm out there in the last round and I just let myself play.

“It was a long week, having played four rounds already, and I did my best to stay patient.

“Now I am really looking forward to the 2018 season on the LPGA. I have been working towards this since I was about 15 and it’s nice to see the hard work pay off.

“I’m grateful to my parents, as I would not be anywhere without them, and I’d like to thank my coaches, sponsors and friends who have supported me and the SGU and LGU (now R&A) for all the opportunities they afforded me during my amateur career.

“I’m looking forward to having a full schedule on the LPGA and LET and to the additional commercial exposure it will give me.

“That should help me attract good sponsors, which I need to help me meet the additional costs in my early months on tour in the States.

“I would love to have a sponsor with a connection to Aberdeen or Scotland to help me.

“I also want to thank SSE, who are an energy supply company HQed in Perth. Their support this year was invaluable.

“After Australia, I will be at home for a couple of weeks before heading to the US west coast and Hawaii for a good run of tournaments.

“My aim is to win a spot at the first major of the year, the ANA Championship at Mission Hills GC by Palm Springs in late March. The name of the tournament has changed over the last few years but people will know it from the traditional winner’s jump into the famous Poppie’s Pond.

“I have good memories from playing over the ANA course at the Stage 1 LPGA Q School in 2015, when I graduated.

“I had six birdies in my final round and played really well.

“My next LET tournament after the Australian ones will be the Scottish Ladies, which is a joint LPGA/LET event at Gullane and I will be hoping to play in the British and Evian, which are also joint sanctioned events.

“Entry to those events will be prize-money dependent but both are LPGA events with a few LET spots, so it is much easier to qualify from the LPGA.

“I’ll also play in Dubai again in December. Ideally I’ll play in more events to maintain my LET card.

“I know I have a long way to go but I would love to establish myself this year and make a real push to be in Catriona Mathew’s Solheim team in Gleneagles.

“To play in a Solheim Cup on home soil would be magical and it’s a huge motivator to me.

“My game improved in all of the key target areas in 2017 thanks to my coach Lawrence Farmer and some others.

“My swing is now coming more inside through the hitting area.

“The result is I’m hitting the ball further from both tee and approach shots and, as a result of putting Callaway Epic fairway woods and hybrids in the bag I have removed much of the damaging spin from longer approach shots.

“My putting and green reading have also improved hugely with the help of Phil Kenyon’s number two, Mike Kanski.”

Gemma has also been working with the Chimp Management organisation (Chris Hoy and UK cycling’s mental coaches) on her mental game.

“I believe I am now much more in control on the course as a result of that work,” added Gemma.

“All of that work will continue through 2018 but I’ll give more priority to shot-making, including improving shots where I’m in between clubs, high soft landing cut shots and low shots into the wind and the like.

“Other key targets are to improve my accuracy in wedge-play from 50-100 yards and to continue to hone my finishing skills on the green.”

Former Curtis Cup player Gemma attended Elrick Primary School as a youngster before moving south to Beaconsfield with her family in her teens.

By Alan Brown