When Pauline Roussin teed it up at the Singapore leg of the Aramco Team Series in March, the former world amateur No1 had her caddie boyfriend on her bag.
It proved a winning formula for the Frenchwoman, 23, who beat a high-class field by four shots to claim the second title of her burgeoning professional career.
So as she enters the home straight of her season Roussin is teaming up with partner Bruce Lowe again, starting with another Aramco Team Series event in Riyadh this week.
“He is a full-time caddie on tour. He usually works with someone else but we decided to finish the year together,” she told City A.M.
“He’s a really good caddie and we chat like a normal player and caddie. Then obviously when we are chit-chatting about anything else it’s going to be as boyfriend and girlfriend, but most of the time it’s a purely professional relationship – despite some jokes that can sometimes be a bit inappropriate!”
Singapore wasn’t the first time Roussin had won with a loved one on her bag; her first win, at the 2021 Skafto Open two weeks after turning pro, came with mum Marielle as her caddie.
“I think honestly I’m going to do it more often. I have him [boyfriend Bruce] on the bag again this week until the end of the year and it’s definitely something special,” she added.
“Having someone who knows you really well helps. When everything goes your way it’s fine but whenever it’s getting a little harder having a loved one on the bag, you don’t want to be too mad because you don’t want to upset them or make them have a bad time.
“So as long as it goes well I’ll keep having my family and boyfriend on the bag.”
Roussin will be up against some of the world’s top players at the last Aramco Team Series event of 2023, including world No1 Lilia Vu and England’s Charley Hull.
It will be her 23rd tournament in just 36 weeks, a punishing workload that she admits has not brought the best out of her. Since Singapore she has finished better than 35th just once.
“I still have three more [events] so it’s going to be 26 at the end of the year. It’s definitely going to be different next year. I’ve played too much and that was a mistake of the year,” she said.
“I love playing that much but sometimes it’s important to go back to your practice, resetting the system instead of just travelling all over and trying to play, losing what you’re playing for, which kind of happened this year.”
As Roussin’s schedule shows, she is something of a workaholic who doesn’t take naturally to rest. She likes boxing and mixed martial arts for fitness, which she used to unwind during a recent fortnight off to prepare for a run-in that includes the Ladies European Tour finale in Spain and the gruelling Q Series, where she will try to win back her LPGA Tour card.
“I am lucky enough to have a body that doesn’t have many injuries, so in between tournaments I can do things that I like and not rehab or anything like that,” she said.
“I can box. I like staying active. I’d rather be active than staying in my couch, that’s for sure.
“I used these two weeks to work a lot on my golf. I flew back to South Carolina to practise where I went to college. Then on top of that some big cardio workouts to get ready for Q Series. And horse riding whenever I had a day off.”
Like many golfers, Roussin also works on the mental side of her game. But she has dispensed with sports psychologists in favour of self-led meditation and breathing work.
“I decided to stop working with any type of mental coaches. The only mental [aspect] I’m going to talk about is meditating and breathing from now on,” she said.
“I’m actually into a book that is explaining the physiology of breathing and how to use your breath when you’re an athlete. It’s really interesting.
“I can use it during practice, during rounds and even in everyday life. It’s something that gave me some calm, despite all the energy I have.”
As well as the grind of playing more often than not, Roussin puts her mid-season slump down to losing sight of her goals; playing to keep her playing privileges rather than for wins.
“I made a really good start but then not so good. And then it was like: do you keep playing because you need points, or do you stop playing because you need rest and practice?” she said.
“It’s trying not to forget why I’m playing and I think I lost that. It was a vicious circle of playing, playing, playing, being afraid to lose points, which is actually what happened.
“It was a learning process and one of the toughest years I have had. But I really intend to finish it on a good note and sometimes it’s all about the finish and not what happened before.
“What I know for sure next year, I’m not going to restrict myself to one tour or only be focused on keeping my card. I just want to go back to playing golf, playing for the win and not to survive.”
The $5m Aramco Team Series, with its combination of solo and collective scoring, has been a happy hunting ground for Roussin. As well as her individual win in Singapore, she captained the victorious team in Florida in May having had to settle for second twice before.
“I just love the events. I’ve done well in the Aramco Team Series so far so hopefully it will be another good week at this tournament,” she said.
“You can see that many of the best players in the world are coming to play in these tournaments and I think it’s only good for the LET [Ladies European Tour] and for the future.”