There are several words, phrases and expressions that characterize 2020. And, let’s face it, most of them include the kind of crude, colorful turns of phrase in a social club full of squads that you would be more likely to encounter.
A little more user-friendly is Gemma Dryburgh’s overview of this exhausting, tiring year. “It’s just been very strange,” the Aberdonian reflects, with a quick description of, well, a strange few months.
The truth of one major tournament, the U.S. The Women’s Open, less than two weeks before the socially distant collapse of the good old Santa Claus, has only contributed to this very different golf year’s strangeness. “It’s a bit strange to see a major championship on TV just before Christmas,” said Dryburgh.
The 27-year-old would have loved to attend the championship’s 75th edition. Instead, from her home in Beaconsfield, near London, she watches events unfold, reflecting on a season of fluctuating fortunes, breakthrough moments, peaks of morale-boosting and frustrations of motivation-sapping.
Dryburgh ironically had one of her finest seasons in that year of widespread coronavirus-induced carnage and chaos. What did she mean about another odd year being 2020?
The former Curtis Cup player posted two of her best finishes on both the LPGA Tour and the Ladies European Tour (LET) during a mixed schedule, thus picking up a pair of wins in the Rose Ladies Series against formidable opponents. She made a bit of history in one of those wins, at Royal St. George’s, by becoming the first female professional event winner in this historically all-male bastion.
All in all, there were so many things to be happy about. And what then? “It’s been quite an up and down year,” said Dryburgh, who earlier this year finished fourth at the LET’s Bonville Classic in Australia and tied for sixth earlier this summer at the LPGA Tour’s Drive On Championship. “It’s like we almost hit the pause button because of the coronavirus. With nothing really counting this year and most of the players retaining their position for next year, to be honest, it got difficult towards the end. There was a weird vibe.
During the season, there was also no re-ranking, so I was not able to participate in some events during the year because due to the shortening of daylight, the fields got smaller. This has been frustrating. Even my sixth-place finish (at the LPGA Drive On Championship) had to do with rage, too. You got into the US Women’s Open when you finished in the top-10 in some events. But it did not count for qualifying since that event was freshly added to the calendar to fill in the holes produced by the pandemic.
It was a little bit like I was only struggling as time went by. To give me focus and push, I need something. For example, I needed a top-25 finish in my last event a few years ago to avoid dropping into the second qualifying school stage. I did it and went straight to the Q-School finals and got my card back.
“This year, the feeling of ‘I have to do this,’ I think that’s what was lacking. It’s like you need a little danger to get the buzz. That’s why you’re in professional sports, for those moments that are really driving you.
It was not easy to develop herself on the biggest stage of women’s sports. But Dryburgh is still finding her feet in a rugged, competitive golf world after winning her spot on the LPGA Tour in 2018, which has a challenging strength in depth that is deeper than a burial at sea.
Dryburgh said, “I think a lot of people might underestimate how tough it is. “A lot of European girls come here and have a rough time. It can be quite a shock of culture. I studied in the United States, so there I felt more relaxed. But it still represents a big step. It was a little bit like watching the stars during my first year. You’ve seen the players you respected, and now you’re hitting balls next to them on the court. I was like, ‘Should I be here?’ in the beginning. However, everyone on the tour deserves to be there. I won the right, and I began to believe in myself.’
I’m the only Scot now and I want to prove I can carry the flag,”I’m the only Scot now and I want to prove I can carry the flag,”