ACCORDING to ol’ blue eyes, Frank Sinatra, “money really talks in Las Vegas … it says ‘goodbye’.”

Gemma Dryburgh may disagree with that particular observation, mind you. After taking a golfing gamble in this city of high stakes, the Aberdonian walked away with a cheque for almost $50,000. The risk brought plenty of rewards.

As the first reserve for last week’s Bank of Hope LPGA Matchplay Championship, Dryburgh decided to make the trek to the Nevada resort in the hope that she’d get a late call to the starting line-up.

When reigning Women’s Open champion Anna Nordqvist withdrew, Dryburgh squeezed into the field and the 28-year-old put together a sterling performance that could’ve got a residency at the MGM Grand as she made it to the quarter-finals.

“I was in New Orleans when I checked the entries and saw that I was first reserve,” reflected Dryburgh of her decision to speculate to accumulate. “I looked at how much it would cost to get to Vegas at short notice. It was going to be quite expensive but I thought I’d kick myself if I didn’t go and someone else got in instead of me. So, I said ‘let’s do it’.

“Vegas is a place where you can hit the jackpot and I suppose I did. It’s the first time I’ve gone out to an event on a whim and hoped for the best. It was a fair distance to travel with no guarantees but it worked out in the end.”

Dryburgh, the lone Scot competing full-time on the LPGA Tour, is now in North Carolina this week for the US Women’s Open at Pine Needles. It will be the former Curtis Cup player’s fifth major appearance but her first in the US showpiece.

Her major debut came at the 2019 Women’s PGA Championship. You could say that particular outing gave her plenty of food for thought.

“I got food poisoning that week which made it interesting,” she recalled with a grimace. “A few girls and caddies got it. A fighter mentality kicked in, though, and I managed to make the cut despite everything.”

That fighting spirit was very much in evidence last week as Dryburgh revelled in the cut-and-thrust of the matchplay format. She came through a sudden-death shoot-out to emerge from the group stages and beat Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn at the fourth extra-hole before succumbing to Andrea Lee at the second play-off hole in the last-eight. 

“I hadn’t played competitive matchplay since the Curtis Cup as an amateur back in 2014 and it really was a nice change,” she added.

It's back to the strokeplay arena this week and Dryburgh, who is joined in the field by West Kilbride’s Women’s Amateur champion Louise Duncan, has arrived with a spring in her step and a bit more experience of the major occasion.

“You can’t put these events on a pedestal,” said Dryburgh, who earned one of just two qualifying spots up for grabs at a 36-hole US Open qualifier recently.

“When you first get to play in a major you’re a bit ‘oh my gosh, this is a huge week’ but you have to get away from that thinking. Everything feels bigger and better at a major. There is a 'wow' factor but you don’t need to do anything differently. You can end up doing too much preparation and tiring yourself out in the build up to a major so I just try to treat it like any other week of the season.”

Now in her fifth year on the fiercely competitive LPGA circuit, Dryburgh has enjoyed a sturdy start to the current campaign but the Scot is looking for more than consolidation.

“It’s my best start in my time out here,” said the keen footballer who has switched her practice time to make sure she’s in harness for the nail-nibbling Scotland versus Ukraine play-off tonight.

“I’m riding a bit of momentum which is good and have plenty of confidence. I do believe a win is around the corner. It’s great to be on the tour as that was always the dream but, like everybody, I don’t just want to be making up the numbers.

“I’ve put two or three good rounds together but not the full four. You just need everything to click in that one week. And you need a bit of luck too. It’s fine margins at this level.”