With the level of talent currently competing on the LPGA Tour at an all-time high, battling it out for trophies has become a greater challenge than ever before. It’s just as well then, that Gemma Dryburgh would have it no other way. 

The New Orleans-based Scot has finally found her feet at the top of the women’s game and has no intention of slipping up now. 

A breakthrough year in 2022 saw Dryburgh collect her first Tour title at the TOTO Japan Classic, and last season followed up that success by putting in her most consistent performances to date since earning her card in 2018.  

Making the cut at all five majors? Check. Contributing to Team Europe regaining the Solheim Cup? Check. Achieving a career-high world ranking? Got that too. 

It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that she now feels right at home amongst the world’s best. 

“I think the first few years were about getting my feet wet and getting used to being on tour, playing alongside some of the best girls in the world,” admits the Scottish No.1. 

“Whereas now it feels normal – I’m definitely a lot more comfortable. I’m now colleagues and friends with these players I looked up to so much as a rookie. 

“Winning helps too, of course. That’s a big confidence booster!” 

It’s something she hopes can become a habit in 2024, as the LPGA Tour gets set for a record-breaking year.  

With more events than ever now on the calendar, and increased prize money on offer across the board, the women’s game continues to go from strength to strength - and Dryburgh is excited to be at the heart of it all. 

“The women’s game has got so much to offer, and the more we get the word out about that, the more people see us play, it’s only going to get better from here,” she says. 

“The depth of the tour just gets better every year, the talent keeps improving. It’s even tougher to get on the tour and then stay on it too. 

“We’ve still got a long way to go in terms of closing the gap on the men, but we’ve made a lot of progress in the last few years which is great to see and to be involved in.” 

With crowd numbers also rising and the game gaining more exposure, the pressure to perform has been ramped up. Unsurprisingly, it’s something which stirs up excitement in Dryburgh rather than apprehension.  

“I absolutely welcome it,” she says. “I love playing in front of big crowds – it makes it feel like a big event and gets the adrenaline going. 

“The Solheim Cup last year was the biggest crowds I’ve ever played in front of, and was the most pressurised situation as well, but I just loved every minute of it.  

“After that week, I was thinking ‘I wish every week was like that’.” 

The crowds will be out in force this week to see Dryburgh in action as the star-studded Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions gets the 2024 LPGA season under way. 

An impressive showing last time out at the Lake Nona Golf and Country Club in Florida saw the 30-year-old earn a top-20 finish to get her 2023 season up and running, and she’s hoping the venue can once again provide a solid platform from which to build on for the season ahead.  

“I’m really looking forward to it,” says the world No.64. “It’s a unique event with only 30-odd girls playing, so it’s a small field – but a competitive one. It’s a real privilege to be involved. 

“It’s known as an amazing course – one of the best we’ll play on all year – and the conditions will be amazing too, so it’s a nice way to start the year.  

“I played well towards the end of last year, so my game is feeling pretty good at the moment. I’ve been working on a few things over the off-season. Nothing major, just small improvements. 

“I stayed in the States this year so it was nice to get some good weather to put the practice in. I usually go home and it’s a bit miserable! 

“So it’ll be good to see how it all holds up when I get on the course this week.” 

Scottish summers are hardly synonymous with blue skies and sun-kissed greens, but even the threat of more “miserable” weather can’t dampen her enthusiasm for what’s to come in August, as the Women’s Open returns to St Andrews for the third time.  

While it promises to be an emotional occasion for Dryburgh, she’ll look to put distractions to one side in her bid to get her hands on her first major at the home of golf.  

“It’s just the top venue in golf,” she says. “My dad’s side of the family is from Fife, so it’s a special place. 

“We used to go there when I was young quite regularly, so it’ll be good to play there, and I’m looking forward to it. 

“It’s definitely a big highlight on the calendar, and there will be lots of family coming to watch, so it’s an event I’m hoping to peak at.” 

The fight to consistently be in the mix for trophies in 2024 will be Dryburgh’s toughest challenge yet. Thankfully, it’s one she’s now more than ready to take on.