The 22-year-old Scot, who only joined the paid ranks just over a fortnight ago, comfortably progressed to the final two rounds at Muirfield after following her opening 67 with a 73 to sit on two-under.
“It was a bit of a grind,” she said of her second circuit, which included a run of three straight bogeys on the front nine but also a lovely birdie-2 at the 13th, “but I’m happy with the score and also two-under for two rounds in testing conditions.”
It’s the second year in a row that Duncan had made the cut in this event, having gone on to finish joint-tenth as an amateur at Carnoustie 12 months ago.
“Not really, no,” replied the West Kilbride woman to being asked if she’d felt under more pressure on this occasion due to now playing for a living.
“I kind of just knew it wasn’t going to be that easy and I had a wee bit of a tough time going around six, seven and eight. So I just stuck in there and had a decent back nine.”
The 2021 Women’s British Amateur champion was asked if she was a different golfer than 12 months ago.
“I’m a different person, I think, maybe not a different golfer, definitely developed some skills,” she replied to that.
“But I stayed really calm out there, even when it was tough. Dean (Robertson), my caddie, influenced that a bit. He could tell I was getting a bit hot headed. He tells me to stop being an idiot and just calm down.”
Duncan got engaged to Jordan Hughes, a swimmer and fellow North Ayrshire native, just before Christmas and he’s been among a posse of people following her round on the East Lothian coast.
Will a big cheque on Sunday night change the wedding plans? “If it’s a big, big pay cheque, we can just go abroad and get it over with….in the nicest way possible before that comes across bad,” she said, laughing.
Playing in the same group as Duncan, Catriona Matthew carded three 2s as she also signed for a 73, but, on seven-over, it was an early exit for the 2009 winner after she’d hit the opening shot on Thursday in the first women’s professional event to be held at what was once a bastion of men-only clubs.
“I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been good,” said North Berwick native Matthew of playing in a major on her doorstep. “Nice to be playing here and see everyone playing here.
“I’m impressed with the scoring. I think the scoring has been really pretty good considering. I’d say it’s pretty windy out there.”
Next year’s event is being held at Walton Heath before the 2024 edition takes place at St Andrews. “Yeah, probably,” replied Matthew to being asked if she’d probably still play in that one. She’s exempt until 60 and added with a smile: “Got a few years!”