Gemma Dryburgh's hat no longer blank billboard in timely boost for Scottish No 1
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Gemma Dryburgh's hat no longer blank billboard in timely boost for Scottish No 1

Jun 05, 2023

Adding to support she’d already secured from Farmfoods, River and Mercantile, Entier, St Andrews Brewing Co and Creative X Entertainment on the back of landing the Toto Japan Classic in November, Dryburgh is also now officially the first brand ambassador for the Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa.

“It’s amazing,” Dryburgh, sitting in the boardroom on the fourth floor of the iconic St Andrews property, told The Scotsman of her new tie up, which starts in a public sense in this week’s $2 million Freed Group Women’s Scottish Open at Dundonald Links in Ayrshire. “The front of my hat has been empty this year, so it’s nice to have a logo on there now and especially a Scottish one.”



According to general manager Phyllis Wilkie, the ground-breaking partnership has been struck with one eye on next years’ AIG Women’s Open, which will take place on the Old Course. “In the lead up to it, we wanted to take the opportunity to support Scotland’s No1-ranked female golfer and to help inspire the next generation of Scottish talent to take to the fairways,” she said.

Dryburgh’s own career was partly inspired by watching golfers tackle the Old Course and, in particular, the renowned Road Hole. “It’s a special place as I used to come here as a kid,” she revealed, smiling. “Dad had quite good corporate rates at the Old Course Hotel, so we used to come here for some weekends and I’ve got some good memories here with my mum and dad. To be sponsored by them now is pretty special and I’m very honoured to be the first player to be in this position.”

It’s great that Dryburgh’s progress in the game - she was 199th in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings coming into her home Open at the same venue 12 months ago but has just climbed to a career-best 50th after a top-ten finish in last week’s Amundi Evian Championship - has been recognised from a sponsorship perspective and now it’s a chance for golf fans to do likewise as the Aberdonian tees up in a field boasting seven of the world’s top ten.

“Since my win, I’ve not been back to play in Scotland yet, so it will be nice to see a home crowd,” she said. “It’s always a special week, as is the AIG Women’s Open and people from my home club (Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire) are coming to watch me playing in that at Walton Heath next week. It will certainly be a fun two weeks.”

It had been a steady rather than spectacular 2023 campaign for the New Orleans-based player before she secured a tie for eighth spot behind the home winner, Celine Boutier, in the penultimate major of the year, thanks to a birdie-birdie finish on the banks of Lake Geneva in France on Sunday.

“It’s been consistent since the win,” she observed of making the cut in 12 of her 14 events on the LPGA this year. “I’ve played quite well and it was nice to get that first top ten of the season last week. That was my best finish in a major so far, so I’m coming into these events in good form and feeling confident about how I’m playing. I’m just excited to see how the next couple of weeks go, especially with the Solheim Cup coming up as well.”

Six of the players for Suzann Pettersen’s European side to face the Americans at Finca Cortesin in Spain in September will qualify via the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. Heading into the final straight, Boutier (No 4), Leona Maguire (No 13), Georgia Hall (No 15), Charley Hull (No 17), Carlota Ciganda (No 31) and Madelene Sagstrom (No 39) are currently in those automatic spots. The top two on the LET Solheim Cup points list - Swedish duo Linn Grant and Maja Stark at the moment - will also secure spots, with the final four beths being filled by captain’s picks, which will be made after the ISPS Handa World Invitational in Northern Ireland later this month.

“I’m probably going to need a pick to get in the team, so hopefully I can impress Suzann in these events,” said Dryburgh. “I think doing that last week kind of relaxes me a little bit as it’s got me off to a good start in these important few weeks back in Europe and hopefully I can keep it going.”



Joining Dryburgh, who finished as the leading home player behind Japan’s Ayaka Furue 12 months ago, in flying the Saltire in the LET/LPGA co-sanctioned event on this occasion are Laura Beveridge, Michele Thomson, Kylie Henry, Pamela Pretswell Asher, Louise Duncan and Heather MacRae. If they need any inspiration, it was surely provided by Bob MacIntyre when he came close to becoming the first home player since 1999 to win the Genesis Scottish Open last month, when he ended up being pipped by Rory McIlroy’s brilliant birdie-birdie finish at The Renaissance Club.

“Yeah, definitely,” said Dryburgh. “Seeing Bob do that and almost winning it at the end of a pretty incredible final round was inspiring and hopefully I can do the same thing. It’s always great to see other Scots do well and also the buzz around it as well.”

Dryburgh deserves some buzz around her after joining Catriona Matthew, Janice Moodie and Kathryn Imrie as the sole Scots to taste victory on the LPGA. “Sometimes it’s nice to go under the radar,” she admitted, which was probably still the case 12 months ago, “but it’s also nice to get some recognition, especially in Scotland, and hopefully more people will come to watch and get to know me a wee bit better.”

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