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Golf | European Tour

Richie looking for more success in SA



South Africa is a place Scotland’s Richie Ramsay has a strong affection for, and his is a face local golf fans will be intimately familiar with. In December 2009, the man from Aberdeen ended South Africa’s eight-year annexation of its national Open trophy when he held off Shiv Kapur in a playoff at the Pearl Valley Golf Estate, and thus clinched his maiden European Tour title in his rookie season.

“I always enjoy coming back down here,” Ramsay said. “It’s a special place for me because it’s the first place I won. It was the South African Open, so it was quite a prestigious tournament. So it’s always great to be here. There’s lots to do, and the food and hospitality have been fantastic. Hopefully I can round it off with another win this week.”

Ramsay has returned to the Republic for this week’s Volvo Golf Champions at Durban Country Club courtesy of his win at last year’s Omega European Masters, and, despite some adverse weather and blustery winds in yesterday’s opening round, the Scot finds himself right in the thick of things after carving out a 69. The headlines on day one belonged to Thongchai Jaidee after his swashbuckling round of 65, but Ramsay is content with his start, and he and six others sit just one stroke adrift of Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen who share second.

“Yeah, it was a really good round. It was difficult, because there were gusting winds and the course was playing a little bit bouncy. But I was really happy to come in with a score like that,” the 29 year-old said.

Rain and persistent winds are forecast to continue for rounds two and three, but Ramsay, who cut his teeth on the European Challenge Tour for two years, is no stranger to inclement weather, and believes he will be very much at ease if the winds refuse to relent.

“I don’t always go out in the rain, but the wind – yeah I know how to play in the wind and knock it down. But it’s a little different here with the surfaces and the turf and stuff. But it’s obviously nice to play well in the wind. I always feel comfortable out there when it is windy,” he warned.

As an amateur, Ramsay made waves when he became the first Scot in more than 100 years to win the US Amateur Championship, and he was also given the honour of being the first player to be ranked as the official world’s number one when the R & A released the first ever Amateur rankings in January 2007.

Ramsay turned pro soon after, and has since enjoyed a steady incline in his career that saw him finish 26th in the 2012 Race to Dubai with more than €1 million in earnings to his credit. And, while his name may not stand out this week in a field littered with golfing legends, the talented Ramsay has every reason to believe that a third European Tour title, and a second in South Africa, is within his grasp.

“I feel like I’m playing well after a few weeks off. It’s a good start and I’m in a good position, but there’s still a long way to go. We’ll just have to see,” Ramsay smiled.

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