In-form Richie Ramsay dreams of Dunhill Links glory after fast start
In-form Richie Ramsay led a promising start by a posse of Scots in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, which has already produced a hat-trick of tartan triumphs.
On a day of low scoring at all three venues after heavy overnight rain, Ramsay finished birdie-birdie as he came home in 31 to card a six-under-par 66 at Kingsbarns.
That left him sitting joint-seventh after the opening circuit in the £4 million pro am, with fellow Scots Calum Hill and Russell Knox also handily-placed after 67s at Kingsbarns and St Andrews respectively.
Ramsay, who finished second to Englishman Oliver Wilson in 2014, took up where he’d left off when securing sixth spot in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth on Sunday as he made seven birdies in a bogey-free effort.
“That was obviously a really good finish and I was just feeding off it,” admitted the three-time European Tour winner. “My confidence was high and I went out there and played just really steady.”
Two-under at the turn, the Edinburgh-based player moved up a gear with birdies first, fourth and sixth on the back nine before finishing with that flourish.
“Just try to keep the foot down because there’s so many good players this week,” he said of his mindset down the stretch. “This is a course that I probably haven’t shot the numbers I feel I could have, so it was nice to get a low one in today, and I’ve just got to keep chasing that and keep chasing more birdies tomorrow at St Andrews, because I just want get in the mix on Sunday.
“That’s my main goal. Get in the mix on Sunday on the Old Course at St Andrews, those ingredients are just too good. That would be a dream to be there and have a chance to win.”
Gleneagles-attached Hill, who is playing in only his second European Tour event, eagled his last hole – the ninth – to also get the start he was looking for at Kingsbarns.
Like him, Knox is making his debut in the event and the Scottish No. 1 was delighted with an opening effort on the Old Course that contained eight birdies.
“It is right up there,” he replied to where the effort ranked among his rounds on Scottish soil. “This was an important round for me. I’ve been desperate to get some momentum going. I need to do a little better.
“Coming here, I know that St Andrews is always scoreable in this format and I knew that the conditions were decent and the pins were going to be relatively easy.
“I knew that I needed to go out and play a good round for my confidence going forward. I definitely saw enough to be confident going forward, so I am happy with that.”
Vic Open winner David Law and rookie Barassie pro Euan Walker had 68s while Scott Jamieson and Liam Johnston, who is struggling with sore tonsils, signed for 67s.
Stephen Gallacher, the 2014 winner, opened with a 70, one less than Bob MacIntyre, who had two eagles at Carnoustie, while Grant Forrest shot 72.
Of the 11 Scots in the field, David Drysdale was the odd man out as he failed to break or match par with a 75 at St Andrews.
South African Justin Walters took pride of place on the opening day with a brilliant nine-under-par 63 at St Andrews, where he was bogey-free and birdied the Road Hole.