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RAMSAY ON TEEING OFF BESIDE TIGER
By Stuart Fraser
Tuesday 27th April 2010
It’s nervy enough hitting your first tee shot in front of a fellow club member whom you have never met before.
Imagine then how Richie Ramsay felt as he stepped up to hit his shot at the first hole of the 2007 US Open Championship in front of world No.1 Tiger Woods.
The 26-year-old from Aberdeen was playing in what was only his second major, having qualified courtesy of his victory at the U.S. Amateur Championship the previous year, in which he became the first Scot to win the event in 108 years.
Following tradition, the U.S. Amateur champion is always paired in the same group with the defending U.S. Open champion and current Open champion. With Woods having won the Open in 2006 at Hoylake, this ensured an unforgettable experience for the Scot.
“It is hard to describe it, it is very surreal,” he says. “I wouldn’t say it is like a circus but it is funny. The amount of attention and sheer volume of people is unbelievable.
“It’s a difficult thing to adjust to and you can see how people struggle sometimes when they play with him because it is a difficult environment. It’s a difficult experience but it can be really enjoyable. It is probably twice as hard playing with him but it is ten times more fun.”
Describing the moment he stepped up to hit his first shot with Woods, Ramsay says: “That’s comfortably the most nervous I have ever been over any shot. I think making connection with the ball is impressive to be honest.
“Without maybe trying to be like it, he is a very intimidating person because he has this aura around him and you don’t realise until you stand next to him that he is a huge guy. His waist is relatively tiny but his upper body is massive. He almost looks like he could be a bouncer.”
It was part of the final stages of Ramsay’s amateur career before he decided to turn professional a month later. Rather than following the American scholarship route to professional golf, he decided to study Marketing and Sports Studies at Stirling University for which he graduated in 2007 with a 2:1 honours degree.
“It doesn’t matter where you travel in the world, you always feel more comfortable being at home where you know the language, know the people and know the culture,” Ramsay says.
“I basically had from my campus door, my classes, practice facilities and the gym all within a 10 minute walk. Half the reason you go to university is for life experience. I had an unbelievable time and I think I’m a better person for it on and off the course. When I’m not on the course and when I’m out on tour now, I don’t feel like I have to go out all the time because you feel you have got that out of your system at university.”
The route to the top in professional golf is often not for the impatient, and when Ramsay lifted his first European Tour title in December 2009 at the South African Open, it was a massive relief for him as it secured his place on the tour till at least the end of 2011.
“It is not often you get job security being a golfer but it definitely lifted a huge weight off my shoulder,” exclaims Ramsay. “It was a great week and the feeling doesn’t get better than that, winning your first event.
“It is definitely something you can remember for a long time and it gives you that unbeatable feeling of knowing that you have been the best over the week when you get to hold the trophy on the Sunday night. It makes you even more hungry to do well because you get a taste for it and you want more of it.”
Ramsay is now looking ahead to a big summer of golf, with St Andrews playing host to the 150th Open Championship in July. However, his current ranking means that he will have to come through a qualifying event at Sunningdale in England in June if he is to take part in this year’s Open.
“I qualified last year to get to Turnberry at Sunningdale, and it’s a course which suits my game,” says Ramsay. “If I go out there and play well, I definitely feel I can get into the Open. Once I get there, I think my belief and ability is a lot better than it was last year and I expect to have a good showing there.”