A year ago, Trish Johnson made amends for previous Ladies’ Scottish Open slip-ups when she won the team event with former football star Alan Hansen.
Now the English veteran is aiming to finally achieve her goal of landing the main prize in the Aberdeen Asset Management-sponsored event in East Lothian.
Johnson carded a six-under-par 66 on the Fidra Course at Archerfield Links to take a three-shot lead after the opening day of the event’s fifth staging on the East Lothian coast.
It was a splendid effort from the 48-year-old from Bristol and confirmed her liking for a venue where she’s had chances to win this tournament twice in the past. “In 2010, I had a two-shot lead with three holes to play only to lose by one but was pretty unlucky as the heavens opened,” she recalled.
“Then, two years ago when Carly [Booth] won, I was seven under after 11 holes and I think I had the lead. But I got a flyer out of the rough on 14 and made double and then played very poorly coming in.”
There was very little poor about Johnson’s opening performance this time around, signing for seven birdies in difficult wet and windy conditions. “I like the course and I hope I can continue to play well for the next couple of rounds,” she added.
Frenchwoman Anne-Lise Caudal headed into today’s second round as her nearest challenger, with three players, including home pair Kylie Walker and Carly Booth, a stroke further back. Defending champion Catriona Matthew started out with seven shots to make up on the leader after failing to cash in on some of the holes that were playing downwind. “I played okay but didn’t take advantage of some of the par-5s, which was disappointing,” admitted the North Berwick woman.
Playing into the teeth of the wind, the 18th required a driver, 3-wood and 8-iron for Sally Watson as the former Murrayfield member opened with a one-under 71 to sit joint-sixth. Musselburgh’s Vikki Laing carded a 77 to lie joint-47th, meaning she had no room for error to survive tonight’s cut.
In the team event, Aussie ace Nikki Campbell and Gavin Corbett were leading on ten-under-par, with Booth and actor Dougray Scott among their closest challengers two back.
“He played great and was very chilled – I wish I could be more like him on the golf course,” said Booth of the big Hibs fan.
At seven-under, defending champion Johnson and Hansen were tied for fourth with two other teams. Their win 12 months ago had particularly pleased Johnson after her scorecard error had proved costly when they were first paired together in the event in 2010. “When I came in I was drenched and I’d just given the tournament away so I was absolutely gutted,” she revealed.
“Alan’s won the amateur prize. I went home and had a phone call from the tournament director, saying ‘Slight snag: you’ve signed the card wrong for Alan,’ so he didn’t win! He’d come out for the prize giving and wondered why his name wasn’t called out. I sent him an e-mail and I didn’t get any reply. But when I got here the next year he was loving it because he was taking the mickey out of me relentlessly. He’s a good sport and he realised I didn’t do it on purpose. He’s a perfect person to play with.”