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Louise Duncan had high expectations when she made her professional debut. It’s just taken an extra week for them to be realized.
The 2021 Women’s Amateur champion missed the cut in her first pro start, shooting 77-74 at last week’s Women’s Scottish Open. But after a few days to reflect and fine-tune her driver, she’s off to a great start at the AIG Women’s Open.
Duncan, a 22-year-old Scot, shot 4-under 67 in the opening round at Muirfield. She’s two off the lead, held by Hinako Shibuno.
“It was worth the 4:30 [a.m.] alarm,” said Duncan, who was in the first threesome out Thursday. “I'm glad it's over with and I played well.
“I got a with wee bit down on myself last week. It was obvious. My head was down. I just wasn't in a good mood, to be honest. But yeah, today was in a good mood and played well.”
Duncan said she put a new head on her driver “and that seemed to have sorted the lefts and the rights.” She had four birdies, two bogeys and an eagle at the par-5 17th.
In addition to her driving, Duncan was impressed with her short game. “My putting is an area of weakness for me; to have a good putting round today is quite nice,” she said. “Gives me a bit of confidence, as well, going into the next however many days.
When she met with the media following her round, Duncan exclaimed, “Déjà vu.” That’s because she was in contention at this major last year as an amateur. Competing at Carnoustie, Duncan was also 4 under after the opening round and was two shots off the 54-hole lead. She ultimately tied for 10th, closing in even-par 72.
She didn’t earn any money for that performance but, with an increased purse of $7.3 million this week, she has a chance to cash in as a pro.
“I haven't had a paycheck and still feel like I'm an amateur,” she said. “Yeah, I'm rolling with the punches and see where it takes me.”