Given the hype and hysteria that surrounded Richie Ramsay becoming the first Scotsman since 1898 to win the US Amateur Championship, the 24 year old could be forgiven for thinking he has it made. Ramsay though, is not the kind to believe the hype.
The Aberdonian will play as a professional in his native land for the first time this week at the Challenge Tour’s Scottish Challenge presented by Bank of Scotland Corporate, and will do so with a steely determination to prove he has what it takes to survive and conquer a professional business that cares nothing of amateur reputations.
He may have won the 2006 US Amateur Championship and represented Great Britain and Ireland at the 2005 Walker Cup, but, starting with his first professional tournament at last week’s Russian Open Golf Championship and continuing at the Macdonald Cardrona Hotel Golf and Country Club, Ramsay has to prove his worth among his fellow professionals.
“I think you have to earn these players’ respect,” he concurred. “A lot of guys have congratulated me on winning the US Amateur last year and that’s great, but they know that once you come out here then all that matters is what you do in the pro ranks.
“You have to play well out there and earn their respect and that is something I like. That’s the way it should be. Everybody’s been very good to me out here and hopefully I can get some more respect with some good scores this week.
“I feel prepared to compete with the guys out there – I just have to go out and do it as opposed to talking about it.”
To his credit, Ramsay speaks with a drive and intelligence that should stand him in good stead for his professional career.
He made a fine start to that career at last week’s Russian Open Golf Championship, comfortably surviving the halfway cut before finishing in a tie for 54th place at Le Merdien Moscow Country Club to secure his first ever prize money cheque of €5007 (£3,367).
“I’m playing nicely,” continued Ramsay, who became the first Scot since Findlay Douglas to win the US Amateur Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club last year.
“I was steady in Russia last week. I played really well in sort of 12 to13 hole spells of the third and fourth rounds. I probably didn’t take advantage of that, especially in the fourth round. If I can play as I did last week, be consistent and hole a few putts then I’ll be all right. I have been driving it straight and hitting the irons well, so hopefully it will come off this week.”
There will, of course, be another 149 professionals, as well as six amateur players in the field this week who will have something to say about that.
Among them are some of Europe’s finest up and coming talents, including the 2005 US Amateur champion, Edoardo Molinari of Italy, Joost Luiten of The Netherlands and England’s Ross McGowan – all of whom have won twice on the 2007 Challenge Tour and who have the extra incentive of instant promotion to The European Tour if they can secure a third title at the Macdonald Cardrona Hotel Golf and Country Club.
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