Oliver Fisher can’t remember playing Richie Ramsay in the 2005 Amateur Championship but he didn’t have any trouble recalling who had ended his title bid at Royal Birkdale on that occasion.
“I lost to John Gallagher in the semis,” declared the Englishman of the one-hole defeat inflicted on him by the then Swanston player, who subsequently lost by the same margin to Irishman Brian McElhinney in the final.
Fisher took that trip down memory lane after repeating his win over Ramsay 11 years ago as he progressed to the last eight in the Aberdeen Asset Management Paul Lawrie Match Play with a 3&1 success over the Edinburgh-based player at Archerfield Links.
Ramsay, who practises and is attached to The Renaissance Club next door, had gone into that encounter feeling quietly confident after making an eagle and seven birdies in a morning two-hole win over Finn Rooke Kakko in the second round at the East Lothian venue.
But the three-time European Tour winner found himself fighting an uphill struggle from the moment he fell behind to a birdie at the first from Fisher, his team-mate in the 2005 Walker Cup in Chicago.
“It’s a good win and Richie is a good player and great match player. I’m delighted to beat him,” admitted Fisher as he set up a quarter-final clash this morning with German Max Kieffer. “I played a lot with Richie when I was young and have obviously known him a long time. He won the US and is a gritty sort of player, so it was always going to be a tough game.”
Ramsay was the last Scot to bow out of the event after an earlier third-round exit for Marc Warren as well as a disappointing morning defeat for the tournament host.
Warren, a semi-finalist at Murcar Links 12 months ago, went down on the last to South African Haydn Porteous after being three up early on.
“To be three down after four, it’s tough to stay positive but Tom, my caddie, said, ‘just keep hitting fairways and keep hitting greens and just wait for him to make a couple mistakes’,” admitted rising Springbok star Porteous, this year’s Joburg Open winner.
“Luckily, towards the end of the first nine, he made a few mental errors and a couple mistakes. To bring it back to all-square after nine was pretty motivating and I was delighted to pull through and win the match.”
Porteous, who now meets Englishman Anthony Wall, added: “You always know it’s going to be a tough match when you’re playing against a Scotsman in Scotland. But fair play to the spectators, they were awesome and they gave me the odd clap or two for when I deserved it. Yeah, it was an awesome day.”
Lawrie said he felt “gutted” after losing to Australian left-hander Richard Green at the 19th despite being two up with three to play. The host’s mood wouldn’t have improved when Green then lost to Wall at the first extra hole in the third round.
Following shock exits for Ryder Cup contenders Chris Wood and Matthew Fitzpatrick, Swede Alex Noren heads into the weekend as the strong title favourite as he bids to follow up his success in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Castle Stuart a month ago.
Standing between Noren and a place in the semi-finals is compatriot Johan Carlsson while the remaining last-four tie involves Englishman James Morrison and Spaniard Alejandro Canizares, Fitzpatrick’s conqueror.
Morrison, who has a grandfather who comes from Hamilton, hadn’t broken par in five events prior to this one but is 18-under par for 43 holes, having also been 10-under in the pro-am on Wednesday.
“When I got here, I just loved the look of the golf course,” said the 31-year-old Guilford man, a sentiment that has been shared by every single player who started out in the first European Tour event at this gem of a venue.
The semi-finals will also be played today, leaving just the final and a third/fourth place play-off tomorrow, when high winds look set to give tournament officials a headache despite the fact they’ve already altered the schedule due to the forecast.