Tulliallan's Linzi Morton (pictured) and Stirling University's Lesley Mackay, last year's winner and beaten finalist in the Scottish Championship at Carnoustie, have been through the wars in recent weeks.
Both have suffered from serious wrist problems, so are hugely relieved that they are able to travel to Stranraer next week for this year's version of the National Championship.
It was after the Helen Holm Scottish Open Strokeplay Championship at Troon just three weeks ago that 22-year-old Linzi was suffering from so much pain in her wrist that she headed straight to a local hospital's casualty department.
'I didn't get a scan, but the doctor thought it might be broken and put it in plaster,' she explained. 'He said I'd to keep it on for 10 days and, if there was bruising when it came off, it would mean it was broken and I'd be in plaster for another five weeks. But, thankfully, when it was removed last week, it was fine. I've now had some intensive physiotherapy and I've also bought a machine that sends electric currents through my wrist.
'I was really worried. It would have completely ruined my season if I had been forced to take five weeks out, and missed the Scottish Championship and a number of other big amateur events. I think the problem was caused by too much practice. I've hit an awful lot of balls this winter. But I'm just so pleased that I'm able to defend next week and get on with the rest of the summer's programme.'
As at Carnoustie last year, Linzi will have her lucky charm - her Mum - as her caddie for the opening rounds, although Carol-Anne did step down to allow her daughter's pal, Fiona Lockhart, who now works for the SLGA, to take on the role for the final.
'I'm going down again to Stranraer for the week again, I really enjoy it,' said Mum. 'But we've not even thought about her reaching the final. If she does get there, we'll wait and see.'
Lesley, meanwhile, has had several weeks out of action with what was diagnosed as a stress fracture in her left wrist - also probably caused by too much golf. The 24-year-old from Golspie feared she might miss the Scottish Championship, but she has been able to file an entry.
For both, it is a vital summer as they try and boost their claims to earn GB and Ireland colours against the US at the Curtis Cup at Fox Chapel in Pittsburgh at the beginning of August.
Linzi has certainly enjoyed a great winter - she had a 100% record in an 11-7 win over South Africa in Johannesburg on her recent GB and Ireland debut - and she also performed well in the Weetabix Challenge match between the top amateurs and Evian Tour professionals. And this could be her last year in the amateur ranks. Having spent a couple of years at Midland College in Texas, she now has her sights set on a professional career in America. This winter, she intends trying for her card on the US Futures Tour. Linzi admits she loves the US, and she spent the run-up to last Christmas based in Florida working with her Midland coach, Joe Williams.
But she knows it won't be easy to retain the title at Stranraer, which last hosted the Scottish Championship in 1981 when Kilmarnock Barassie's Alison Gemmill beat Old Ranfurly's Wilma Aitken in a close final. Leading contenders on this occasion included the 2000 Champion, Lynn Kenny, 1996 winner, Anne Laing, and Helen Holm winner, Heather Stirling, who revealed last week that she has suffered from problems with alcohol.
Heather, 25, beaten finalist two years ago, has bravely admitted her troubles and I'm sure that everyone in the Scottish game hopes she can move forward and wish her well for the future. As she proved at Troon, she is a hugely talented player.
|| 15 - MAY 2002