EDINBURGH-BASED Richie Ramsay is hoping some “caveman golf” can get him into next week’s Open Championship at Royal Troon.
Four places are up for grabs on the Ayrshire coast in the £3.25 million Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open starting tomorrow at Castle Stuart.
It’s Ramsay’s last chance to join five fellow Scots – Sandy Lyle, Paul Lawrie, Colin Montgomerie, Russell Knox and Marc Warren – in this year’s Claret Jug joust. And the 33-year-old believes that playing the game over the next four days with simple thoughts is the key to doing himself justice.
“Golf is quite simple when you play caveman golf,” said Ramsay after beginning his preparations for the fourth Scottish Open at the Inverness venue by playing nine holes. “See target, hit ball, find ball and see target again. You just have to keep it simple.”
It’s a thought process that Ramsay has watched Dustin Johnson use to devastating effect in recent weeks, having landed the US Open and WGC Bridgestone Invitational in his last two outings to climb to world No.2.
“I always believe the best golfers are either the guys who don’t think at all or really think about it and work out a proper plan,” added the The Renaissance Club-attached player. “If you are in the middle ground, I think you are stuck.
“There are a lot of individuals in golf and DJ is a great example of that. He just stands up and hits it. If you said to him, are you worried about that bunker down there, he’d probably say, ‘what bunker?’. He is such a relaxed individual.
“He looks as though he plays golf under no pressure, which is a great ability. Tiger [Woods] was more intense and obviously knew what he was doing, but DJ does it a different way that also works as he freeflows it.
“It helps, of course, that he hits it 360 yards and straight as well. I remember seeing him on the TaylorMade truck at Muirfield (at the 2013 Open) and it struck me how relaxed he was. That’s a good way to be.”
Ramsay, who won a new car worth £140,000 for a hole-in-one in Germany a fortnight ago, needs a career-best Scottish Open performance this week to be at Royal Troon next week.
He’s made the cut just twice in eight appearances in his home event, though he can take comfort from the fact one of those occasions was at Castle Stuart in 2011.
“I would love to play The Open,” he admitted heading into an event that features 16 Scots, though Stephen Gallacher is not on that list after sensibly deciding not to rush back too soon from the latest cortisone injection for an ongoing wrist problem.
“Finishing high here, though, is probably more important. I would rather just get that performance under my belt, especially as I am going into a potential two-week break before the Paul Lawrie Match Play (at Archerfield Links) then another two-week break after that.
“It would be nice to do that and give you the motivation to work hard over the break to get better. If you try to force it, it becomes harder. You have to be patient and wait for it to come.
“I have got a couple of things I’m going to change over the break to try to get better. I’m going to work on the mental side. When I have a little break and work on technique, I normally come out refreshed and ready to go.”
This week’s event features eight players from the world’s top 30, namely Henrik Stenson, Branden Grace, Patrick Reed, JB Holmes, Phil Mickelson, Chris Wood, Shane Lowry and Knox.
Mickelson, of course, won at the same venue in 2013 before becoming Open champion a week later at Muirfield and the five-time major winner will be hoping that lightning can indeed strike twice.
For Knox, it’s an event that is every bit as exciting as competing in The Masters for the first time earlier this year as the 31-year-old returns to play in a Scottish Open in his home city as the country’s No.1.
“I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. Probably four or five years, to be honest,” admitted the Florida-based Scot, who was forced to turn down an invitation for the same event when it was last played here three years ago due to the fact he was still trying to secure a footing in the professional game.
He’s since become the first Scot to win a World Golf Championship and heads into a double date on home soil with a strong chance of making a Ryder Cup debut at Hazeltine in September.
“I think I’ve been thinking about it too much, to be honest,” said Knox of that possibility. “After finishing second in Ireland (behind Rory McIlroy in May), I maybe expected to keep going and play really good the next few weeks after that and it just didn’t quite happen.
“It’s all to play for now. I have nothing to lose, everything to gain. If I play good this next month or so, I’m going to have a great chance to play my way on to the team or be right there for a potential pick.”