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Thursday, 27 October 2011
Richie Ramsay  (Getty Images)
Richie Ramsay (Getty Images)
Four days after proclaiming "Bring on Valderrama", Scotland's Richie Ramsay rose to the challenge of continental Europe's toughest course.

The 28 year old began the Andalucía Masters with a superb six under par 65 in blustery conditions to lead by two from England's Ross Fisher.

"Valderrama is the kind of course that suits me," Ramsay, third at the Castelló Masters on Sunday but 12 strokes behind Sergio Garcia, said.

"It’s a shot-maker’s course. You need to manoeuvre the ball right to left or left to right, sometimes you need the low shot or the high one and I feel comfortable doing that.

"I worked out a good game plan with my caddie about how to play it in the wind and it's always nice to have a 65 around a classic course like this because it’s had The Ryder Cup and so many great champions."

Out in the first group of the day, the former US Amateur Champion went to the turn in a three under 32, then started for home birdie-eagle and picked up another stroke when he chipped in at the short 15th.

Ramsay's only mistake came when he took six on the 536 yard 17th, missing the green with his pitch over the water into the wind.

Fisher, down to 83rd in the Official World Golf Ranking a year after making his Ryder Cup debut and without a top five finish all season, had seven birdies and ten pars, but also a triple bogey seven.

That came on the eighth, at 350 yards the shortest par four on the Spanish course, after his drive hit a tree and went out of bounds.

“Very good – anytime you go around Valderrama in par or better it’s a fantastic score,” said Fisher.

“To get round in four under, I’m obviously absolutely delighted. I got off to a great start birdieing the first couple of holes and gave myself a couple of chances. I hit the pin on the par three sixth and it went to three feet which helps, and I made a really good save on seven.

“On eight I hit a good tee shot, it drifted five yards right of the fairway, hits a tree and bounces out of bounds. I was really pleased with the way I fought back.”

Garcia threatened to be the story of the day again when he chipped in to match Ramsay's eagle on the 11th and reached four under, but in the end he had to settle for a one under 70.

“It was a tough day out there,” said Garcia – who finished 27 under par last week.

“The course was soft because of the rain, but with this amount of wind Valderrama is always tough. I got to 4 under after 11, but I guess it was a good round. We had a bit of fortune on 11 with a chip-in and then we got a little bit unfortunate on 13 and 17 with the drives. 

“They were actually good shots, but in Valderrama shots need not only to be good but on the perfect spot. All in all, shooting under par on this course is never a bad thing.”

Ramsay's fellow Scot Stephen Gallacher shares third place with France's Gregory Havret on three under after a day when only four of the field broke 70.

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