"I thought I was going to throw up before I started," confessed Pamela Pretswell.
This abdominal agitation had nothing to do with the anguish that comes with having to conduct a phone interview with a golf writer in the bleak mid-winter.
There's a simple cure for that, after all. It's called hanging up.
Instead, Pretswell's bothersome belly was all part of the rookie nerves that fluttered wildly as she edged on to the first tee for her debut on the Ladies European Tour in Australia back in February. Some 10 months down the line, the 24-year-old is a tad more settled as she reflected on her first season at the top table. "I think I spent the first quarter of the season trying to just calm down and control my nerves," said the former British Women's Amateur Strokeplay champion.
An increasingly calm and controlled Pretswell is in the Middle East this week for the final event of the season, the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters at the Emirates club. She has every reason to feel relaxed. At 60th on the money list, Pretswell has safeguarded her tour card for 2014. "It is mission accomplished, a weight off the shoulders," added the Scot, who opened with a one-under 71 yesterday.
Thankfully, it's been a largely carefree end to the campaign. Despite her stop-start schedule, which has meant she has not played competitively since September, Pretswell, who illuminated a mixed year with a share of fourth in the Ladies Scottish Open at Archerfield, had done just enough in 14 events to cement her place in the safety zone. "It can be a little bit frustrating looking at the order of merit when you're not playing and seeing people pass you but, thankfully, I've been ok since September really," said the Bothwell Castle member. "It took a bit of time to find my feet but, from the middle of the year, I showed some signs of progress and that fourth in the Scottish Open was a bit of a turning point. Last year was a big step up from the amateur game. This year has been an even bigger step. You don't get away with much at this level."
Pretswell's fellow Scot, Carly Booth, has struggled to recapture the form that brought her two tour titles last season. In 2013, she has made just three cuts in 16 events. It can be a fickle game and, for the time being, Pretswell is just happy that she has given herself a solid base upon which she can build and progress. "The big thing is gaining some consistency in my scoring," added Pretswell, who is also keen to shave her putting stats down having averaged 31 dunts on the greens per round. "The time off recently has allowed me to work hard on the destructive shots that were costing me double and triple bogeys. At this level, you're done with those kind of numbers. A year on, and having kept my card, I think I can now reassess my goals and raise my expectations a bit more."
Hopefully, Pretswell will have the stomach for the challenge ahead.