They might be on the other side of the world but Scots Michele Thomson and Gemma Dryburgh are clearly feeling at home in Australia, the pair sharing the lead at the Worrells Women’s NSW Open at Dubbo in the central West of NSW.
After the pace was set early in the day by Sweden’s Camilla Lennarth and Germany’s Olivia Cowan at 4-under, the Scottish pair went out in the afternoon and went one better, their 5-under rounds of 67 good for a one-shot lead on the field.
Ironically, both hail from Aberdeen – where the local links is considered among the best in the birthplace of golf – but are thriving at the tree lined Dubbo course.
Through 18 holes there is a theme developing among the players and it is all about the daunting nature of the course’s narrow fairways.
“I hit eight today,” said Dryburgh after her opening round. “Normally that would be quite low but at this course I was pleased with that.
“You kind of look down there sometimes and you want to hit a hybrid or something off the tee.
“But then you might as well hit the driver as far down there as you can because you can miss the fairway with a hybrid pretty easily too, so you might as well be aggressive.”
Co-leader Thomson was of the same mindset after her round which included just one dropped shot, a savage lip out for par after missing the green at the par-3 18th.
“They’re tough,” she said of the landing areas on most of the holes.
“You think you’re in the perfect spot then you get up there and it’s kind of run out into the rough.
“But I managed to find a few today which is good. Driving is one of the strengths of my game and I think it’s going to be important this week.”
Both Dryburgh and Thomson took encouragement from their performances last week at the Australian Ladies Classic at Bonville but for different reasons.
Dryburgh had her career best LET finish while Thomson found some form with both the driver and putter.
“I kind of did feel this was coming, yeah,” said Dryburgh when asked if she’d had any indication this purple patch might be coming.
“The putting has improved and that’s been the missing piece of the puzzle the last couple of years so it’s nice to see the putts finally go in,” she said.
“I was just seeing the breaks really well today and that’s a good feeling.”
For Thomson the putter has also been problematic but an unexpectedly good run of play in the middle of the tournament last week wasn’t dampened by a fading finish.
“I’ve never played well at Bonville,” she said, “and it’s quite a tight course as well so it was nice to get the driver going a bit there last week.
“But really it’s the putter which is making the difference. I’ve been working really hard on it and it’s been coming around the last couple of weeks.”
Lennarth and Cowan are the pair’s nearest challengers with Julia Engstrom of Sweden, Diskha Dagar of India and Australia’s Breanna Gill a further shot back at 3-under.
Defending champion Meg MacLaren and last week’s runaway winner Steph Kyriacou both struggled to rounds of 75.