Richie Ramsay takes on US Open ten years after debut with Tiger

Richie Ramsay will play alongside Bryson DeChambeau and Nick Flanagan in the first round of Eden Hills. Pic: Getty
Richie Ramsay will play alongside Bryson DeChambeau and Nick Flanagan in the first round of Eden Hills. Pic: Getty
0
Have your say

Capital-based golf star Richie Ramsay has already starred in one top American event, having won the US Amateur Championship at Hazeltine 11 years ago.

Now the 33-year-old is hoping he can also earn his stripes in the US Open when he makes just a second appearance in the tournament this week.

Ramsay plays alongside Tiger Woods at the 2007 US Open in Oakmont. Pic: Getty

Ramsay plays alongside Tiger Woods at the 2007 US Open in Oakmont. Pic: Getty

Ramsay came through a sectional qualifier at Walton Heath to secure his spot in the season’s second major alongside two fellow Scots, Russell Knox and Martin Laird.

His return to the star-studded event comes ten years after he played in it for the first time at Oakmont, where he had Tiger Woods as one of his playing partners.

“I remember 2007 being a lot of fun, though I don’t think I did myself justice,” recalled Ramsay, even though he only missed the cut by two shots after rounds of 78 and 74 on one of the toughest set ups in the tournament’s history.

“I hit it pretty good tee to green, which you need to do in the US Open, but didn’t putt well.

“It was a fantastic experience to play with Tiger at his peak and also Geoff Ogilvy. The galleries were four deep at times.”

While Ramsay was still a bit wet behind the ears back then, he’s used the time since to mature, both as a player and a person.

He’s got three European Tour titles under his belt and feels he is more than capable of giving a good account of himself in the 117th staging of the USGA event.

“I am a different player from ten years ago,” he declared ahead of Thursday’s first round, where he will have two other former US Amateur champions – American Bryson DeChambeau and Aussie Nick Flanagan for company.

“I am technically far superior now and mentally I am a lot tougher, which comes with experience.

“I always enjoy playing over here. It’s a different beast. It’s also a different atmosphere when you are playing with the best players in the world.

“That’s something you have to enjoy as you are testing yourself against the best and that’s going to be great for me.”

Erin Hills is the second new course to be used for the event by the USGA in three years after its visit to Chambers Bay in 2015.

At 7741 yards, it’s the longest in major history, having been described by Spanish star Jon Rahm as being like a “links course on steroids”.

While that length may not suit Ramsay, who isn’t one of the longer hitters in the game, the need for accuracy due to knee-high fescue grass in the rough is certainly up his 
street.

“I think the way the US Open is set up can suit my game,” he noted. “I’m a straight hitter most of the time and that’s key in this event.

“I have been focusing on my chipping because I know my ball-striking is pretty solid.

“Ian [Rae] gives me advice on it while I’ve also seen a couple of other guys – Mike Walker (who works with the likes of Dannny Willett, Matt Fitzpatrick and Chris Wood) being one of them – for a second look.

“I need to find something I’m comfortable with and also something that’s simple. My biggest problem is that I can have too many thoughts. When I keep it simple, that’s when I play my best golf.

“I can save quite a few shots around the greens if I’m chipping well. That’s the way I’m going to get a top-20 finish, which would be a really good week, and I’m more than capable. I just need to keep working hard on my chipping and hopefully things will fall into place.”

In order for Phil Mickelson to be teeing it up this week, Mother Nature is going to have to intervene. The American, who needs to win this title to complete a career Grand Slam, is attending his daughter Amanda’s high school graduation in southern California on Thursday morning.

In an effort to give him a chance of then making it up to near Milwaukee for the opening round, he’s been given a late tee time by the USGA but, even then, it will also probably need a weather delay for Mickelson to play.

“It’s a tough call and I think everyone is different,” said Ramsay of the former Open champion’s family predicament. “I would say there’s no right answer. It’s whatever sits well with yourself.

“It’s the one he wants to complete his career Grand Slam and the one he’s been close to winning on a number of occasions.

“I think a lot of people would like to see him do it but it just falls at an awkward time and he feels he needs to be at his daughter’s graduation.

“All credit to him because it has to be a decision that sits comfortably on his conscience at the end of the day.”