Not many players pop across the Atlantic for a practice round. But Paula Creamer proved she is deadly serious about the Ricoh Women's British Open when she paid a flying visit to St Andrews earlier this year as part of her preparations.
It was further proof of the 'special' tag that every one of the world's best players is attaching to the historic first staging of a women's professional tournament at the Old Course. My goodness, they are even allowing the competitors into the male-only sanctuary of the members' locker room.
For Creamer, a typical all-American girl, victory at St Andrews would be as sweet as apple pie. It would be a first major title and a further step towards her belief that she can become the world No.1. Victory on Sunday, August 5 would also be the perfect way to celebrate her 21st birthday.
She already has good vibes about the famous links having packed three practice rounds into her April sojourn from her new home in Florida. "It was an invaluable visit," she reflected. "The course was very different from the way it looks on television.
"There are a lot of blind tee shots and the greens are a lot bigger than I imagined. Every day, the wind was blowing from a completely different direction, so that was also a great learning experience. It's a course where you can never play enough practice rounds and I'm so delighted I made the trip over."
Thence during its outward journey it skirts the sandhills on the landward side, and one or two of the holes are just a little inland in character and not particularly entertaining. The homeward journey is, on the whole, the more fascinating, and from the eleventh hole onwards there are a succession of hills and valleys of a truly heroic character. If, however, there are one or two dullish holes on the way out, the course begins splendidly with as good a two-shot hole as can well be; too good a hole almost to play so early before the match has had time to develop. BERNARD DARWIN on Portrush