Those golfers who have endured the rigmarole of a qualifying school process know that you can throw in a bad round and still make the grade. At times, though, you may be tempted to throw in the towel. After opening stage one of the Ladies European Tour’s q-school at La Manga with a shattering 83 recently, Louise Duncan was so far out of contention she just about needed to pay another entry fee to get back in.

“After that I was thinking ‘just get me off the course and get me home’,” reflected the West Kilbride rookie of a round that saw her eight-over after just six holes and almost requiring snookers.

What happened next, of course, underlined Duncan’s hardy resolve, mental fortitude and competitive zeal. Like a panel beater dunting out the dents on a car that has been in a shunt, the 22-year-old repaired the damage over the next three days, qualified for the final stage and went on to earn full playing rights for the 2023 Ladies European Tour campaign with a bold birdie on the last hole of a nail-nibbling scramble.

Back on home turf for the festive period, Duncan has been toasting her efforts. Her eventful, topsy-turvy route through the qualifying school may not have been textbook stuff but when you are drinking the celebratory bubbly at the end of it, nobody cares how you got the cork out of the bottle.

“I’ve had bad rounds before but I’ve never been in a situation before where the outcome of one week dictates what I do with my career next year,” said Duncan of that potentially ruinous 83 in the first stage. “The pressure was huge. But we hung in there.

“Over the last three days, Dean [Robertson, her caddie] told me just to think of nine holes and try to beat par on each half of the course. That seemed to help and focus the mind.”

Duncan certainly needed a focused mind on the very last hole of the final. Needing a birdie to haul herself into the card-winning places, the former Women’s Amateur champion responded in style, splashing out of the greenside bunker to a couple of feet and holding her nerve to tickle in the knee-knocking putt. The gasp of relief almost registered on the Beaufort Scale.

“I was sucking in air like there was no tomorrow coming down the last and a 20-yard bunker shot over all the sand wasn’t what you wanted to play when you needed a birdie,” she said. “But it was one of the best shots of my career.

“I was shaking like a leaf over the putt. Miss that and Christmas would’ve been a bit downbeat. But now I have a full card, a great platform and a host of opportunities next year.”

As 2022 birls to a close, Duncan can look back on an eventful golfing year. It started with a morale-sapping outing at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship, where she finished near the foot of the standings, but featured the high of another rousing showing in the AIG Women’s Open in just her second start as a pro. Throw in an appearance at the US Women’s Open and Duncan has already banked a whole host of varied and valuable experiences.

“I’m a rookie but not many rookies can draw on those experiences and I’m very grateful for them,” she added. “If you’d told me after that Augusta Women’s Amateur back in April that I’d have a tour card by the end of the year I would’ve said ‘no chance’.

“In a way, I’m glad that experience happened [she shot 79, 80]. It was a hard time but it made me determined not to suffer anything like that again. If you can come out the other side better for it, then it will stand you in good stead.”

It is now onwards and, hopefully, upwards for this Scottish talent who certainly does not lack distance off the tee but knows the areas she needs to work on if she is to thrive on the main tour.

“My short game and putting are nowhere near the standard they should be but targeting those weaknesses gives me the focus over the winter,” she said. “It’s exciting knowing there is more to come from my game. I know what I’m capable of and I’ll go on to the tour with great belief.”