When it comes to wild cards being dished out in team golf, there tends to be a lot of clandestine, nod-and-a-wink dealings going on.

Gemma Dryburgh, for instance, was given a hush-hush heads-up that she would be one of Suzann Pettersen’s picks for the European Solheim Cup team about a month before the official announcement was made on the made-for-television, Stars in Their Eyes-style unveiling.

Keeping mum on such classified information was a bit like having advanced knowledge of the D-Day landings and trying not to blurt out the secrets down at the local but Dryburgh managed to remain tight-lipped. Well, almost.

“It was very difficult and I did tell my parents and they were obviously buzzing,” said the Scot with a smile.

“Suzann actually came up to me during lunch, after the second or third round at the Evian Championship (in July), and said to me, ‘you are looking good, no need to worry any more’. It was very nice of her to do that as it relaxed me a bit. She obviously told me to keep it to myself as it was a few weeks before the announcement.

“But it was tricky. You guys (the golf writers) were asking about it and, though I was obviously quite confident after what Suzann had to say, you never really know until the official announcement, so I didn’t want to take it for granted.”

Getting the nod from Pettersen, the decorated Solheim Cup stalwart who holed the winning putt in that epic, unforgettable duel with the US at Gleneagles in 2019, remains a moment to cherish for Dryburgh.

“I was lucky enough to be there at Gleneagles in 2019 when she holed that amazing putt at the end,” she said of that nail-nibbling, all-or-nothing moment on the final green of the final match. “Now she’s my captain, it’s a bit of a full circle moment. I’ve watched her over the years playing on tour and admired her so much. For her to give me a captain’s pick is very special.”

Just under a decade ago, Dryburgh was a ‘selection panel pick’ – it doesn’t have the same dramatic ring as a wild card does it? – for the Curtis Cup during her final year as an amateur in 2014.

That was the peak of the Aberdonian’s career in the unpaid ranks and the memories of it remain embedded in the mind as if seared on with a branding iron.

“That was probably the most nervous I have been in my career but I’m sure the Solheim Cup will top that,” said Dryburgh, who has always revelled in the team atmosphere having been a keen footballer before golf became her favoured pursuit.  

“I remember being very nervous at the Curtis Cup. I couldn’t feel my legs. They were numb. Hopefully I can deal with it better with it this time. That was nearly 10 years ago and my game has come on a bit since then. I have great memories of the Curtis cup. At that stage it was the pinnacle of the amateur game and I’m very excited at the thought of reliving that experience, obviously on a bigger stage.”

The stage for the Solheim Cup, meanwhile, is the Finca Cortesin resort near Malaga and Dryburgh is hoping to shine on the Costa del Sol.

After a few sturdy seasons spent chipping away on the LPGA Tour, the 30-year-old made the kind of leap that Neil Armstrong chattered on about when she earned a breakthrough win on the circuit in Japan at the end of 2022 and then vaulted herself into the world’s top-50.

Two years ago, Dryburgh watched Europe retain the Solheim Cup on the tele in America. Here in 2023, she will be part of a side aiming for an unprecedented third win in a row.

“Watching that back then, the Solheim Cup felt a little bit far away for me but I still believed my game was trending in the right direction,” said Dryburgh, who will become the seventh Scot to play in the biennial tussle. “This is something I’d dream about ever since I decided that I wanted to play golf for a living. To be part of Team Europe is going to be amazing. It’s still giving me goosebumps just thinking about it and it probably won’t fully sink in until I get there.”

The wait is almost over.