Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Walsh loving life on Tour – Irish Golfer Magazine

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Lauren Walsh’s maiden Ladies European Tour season may only be three events old – four if you include the abandoned Australian Women’s Classic which suffered a deluge of biblical proportions forcing it to be reduced to a non-counting 18-hole event – but she’s already had ‘Kenya’, ‘Morocco’ and ‘Australia’ stamped on her passport and now she’s in South Africa preparing for the Joburg Women’s Open.

But far from being travel weary, she’s enjoying every minute of it, which is exactly the way any young pro should embrace the first few years on tour.

“I’ve been loving life on tour,” she said. “I’ve seen some very cool places in a very short amount of time. A lot of new experiences and so far so good. I haven’t had any travel disasters yet so far, so it’s been great. I’ve been really enjoying it.”

After securing Category 16 status at LET Q-School last December, she’s successfully gained entry to each of the 2024 LET events with the exception of the two big-money Aramco events, and she couldn’t have gotten off to a much better start as she was co-leader after her opening round of the season-opening Macigal Kenya Ladies Open.

She couldn’t quite maintain the pace over the four rounds, but starting out in the fashion she did was a real confidence booster and proved – not that much proof was ever really needed – that her game was ready and equipped to make that full transition from amateur to professional.

“I feel like I try to go in with no real expectations,” she explained, “I knew if I could play the golf I’m capable of, that would probably leave me in a good spot.

“But again, because it was new territory, I didn’t have a whole lot to benchmark myself against, you know. I played well at Q school and I played well in the start that I got last year, so I was pretty confident that I could come out and compete pretty much straight away.

“That’s kind of what I’ve been doing. But that first round of the year gave me a lot of confidence that I can compete out here.

“And, yeah, hopefully a win or, you know, a couple of top fives aren’t too far away.”

Each week has seen a gradual improvement in the end of tournament finish, starting with a T32 in Kenya, improving to a T24 in Morocco, and then her best result of the season at the NSW Open in Australia where she finished tied for 16th, and with that steady upward trend, she looked poised for another good week at the Australian Women’s Classic a week later only for Mother Nature to intervene and dump a month’s worth of rain over the course of two days.

“Yeah, it was very unfortunate,” she said, “we had really good weather all the practice days and it was just unfortunate how it worked out that the two of the three tournament days were a complete wash out.

“That’s just outside of our control, you know, that’s just the weather not being good to us, but that was a bit of a disappointment. I felt like I was playing well. I came away from a good week the week before and was kind of ready kick on and ended up with almost another week off.

“But I still can bring something from those good rounds and the good result into these two weeks in South Africa.”

As frustrating as it was to have the tournament cancelled after a single round’s play, the fortnight off in between allowed to mix in some leisure time along with practice once she’d made her way to South Africa and began ramping up preparations to get back into battle this week.

“I actually went out to kind of close to Kruger National Park and did some practice up there and did safari one of the days,” she said. “It’s nice when you come this far to places to get to do something away from the golf course.

“I feel like we don’t normally get to venture away much. It’s mostly just going from the hotel to the golf course, but I had a couple of days to spend some time in Sydney, which was nice and then get to do a safari and see some of the wildlife over here.”

While the Joburg Ladies Open will obviously be dominating her attention this week, she’ll have an occasional eye on proceedings in Texas at the Chevron Championship and she hopes that it won’t be too long before her name is among the starting fields at major championships in the future.

“It’s great to see that the prize money and everything is increasing for the women’s game in general,” she said, “that only means good things for the future.

“I think I’ve said it before, my goal is to play against the best players in the world and in the best tournaments. So I do hope to play in many majors in the future. I’ll be following the scores, but hopefully I’ll be there soon enough.”

Walsh currently lies 35th in the LET Order of Merit (with just three events counting whereas many others have five) and she’s climbed from 1,421 in the Rolex World Rankings last August to her current mark of 532, but if she keeps going the way she is, it won’t be long before there’s a third Irish representative at the biggest events in Women’s golf.

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