Ladies Scottish Open: Laura Davies, Catriona Matthew & Danielle Kang in field

By Martin WattBBC Scotland
Michele Thomson
Michele Thomson is one of seven Scots in the field
Ladies Scottish Open
Venue: Renaissance Club, North Berwick Dates: 13-16 Aug

The green grass of home offers respite for Michele Thomson on Thursday after five months of pent-up frustration and financial uncertainty.

The Ladies Scottish Open, the first major international sporting event to be held in the country since lockdown, has attracted a world-class field to the Renaissance Club in North Berwick.

It marks the resumption of the Ladies European Tour, with the first women's major of the year, the AIG Open, following a week later at Royal Troon.

No golf since March - when the tour was suspended because of coronavirus - has meant earnings have dried up.

And with compatriot Gemma Dryburgh commenting that the rising costs of professional golf will "drive a lot of girls out of the game", Thomson is relieved to be out of enforced hibernation.

"It is a concern for the girls, but we're just glad to get back on the golf course and be able to earn some money," she said.

"I'm very lucky that I have some sponsors helping me. Without them I wouldn't be able to do it."

Who is in in the field?

Thirty-two nationalities are represented in the 144-player line-up, with a prize pot of $1.5m at stake. There are also around 21 places available for those not already qualified for the AIG Women's Open.

Two-times Scottish Open winner Catriona Matthew heads the seven-strong home contingent.

As a local resident and captain of Europe's 2019 Solheim Cup triumph at Gleneagles in September - the last women's professional golf event staged in Scotland - it wouldn't have been the same without her.

Carly Booth - the 2012 champion - is also competing, along with Kylie Henry, Kelsey MacDonald, Alison Muirhead, Thomson and Dryburgh, who is part of the opening group teeing off at 06:30 BST on Thursday.

They will look to upstage the 15 major winners in the line-up, who share a total of 24 of the game's biggest honours between them. Chief among them is England's Dame Laura Davies, winner of this event in 1994 and a four-times major champion.

Three of the top 10 in the world rankings - America's Danielle Kang (No.2), Japan's Nasa Hataoka (No.5) and Australia's Minjee Lee (No.8) - bring an international flavour.

Also striving to tame the East Lothian layout are 20 players ranked in the world's top 50, 80% of the top 25 on the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit, and seven of the top 10 from the LPGA's Race to CME.

Bio-bubble & kicking out family

The event - and the AIG Women's Open a week later - is being played with no spectators and in a strict 'bio-secure' bubble.

Organisers say a "robust operational plan" will be implement in line with government health advice and "internationally recognised Covid-19 protocol".

Only personnel involved in the tournament - players, caddies, officials, organisers and broadcast partners - are allowed in the bubble, which comprises the course, practice facilities and hotels, and are subject to daily testing.

"Everyone is doing social distancing and it's just been brilliant," said Thomson.

Matthew, however, has been given special dispensation to stay at home in North Berwick for the duration, which has meant moving her two daughters and pet dogexternal-link into her parents' house for the week.

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