European Tour safety set up hailed by Richie Ramsay

Capital-based star heaps praise on strict protocols
Richie Ramsay signed for a two-under par score of 69Richie Ramsay signed for a two-under par score of 69
Richie Ramsay signed for a two-under par score of 69

Capital-based Richie Ramsay reckons this week’s safety set up for the Betfred British Masters is probably the most impressive thing he’s witnessed as a European Tour player.

The event at Close House, near Newcastle, marks the circuit’s full return since it went into lockdown in early March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The European Tour has invested £2 million-plus in a medical health strategy to get the circuit back up and running, with strict protocols in place this week.

The measures, which have been put in place by a team led by Dr Andrew Murray, include daily temperature checks, a “buddy” system and proper social distancing.

“I’ve been on tour for 13 years now and, arguably, this is one of the most impressive things they’ve done,” said Ramsay after the opening round at the Northumberland venue. “Not just to get it back where we are playing but also the protocols that are in place this week. Everything is really good. It is a very challenging situation, but they have done a great job and it’s great that everything is as strict as possible.”

Lee Westwood, the tournament host, had spoken earlier in the week about how the

set-up was almost “military style” with no grey areas.

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“We’re putting ourselves out there, so it needs to be done properly,” added Ramsay. “If we don’t, it will just stop and you are talking about your job and livelihood.”

The three-time European Tour winner was speaking after he’d signed for a two-under-par 69 on a day that produced some promising starts for Scots in the field.

He finished birdie-birdie, having earlier been two-under after eight then running up a double-bogey 5 at the ninth when his tee shot found water.

“I was very happy with that,” said the 37-year-old. “The first eight holes was almost faultless then I doubled the ninth, which was like a rusty kick in the gut.

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“I made a good bounce back with a good two-putt birdie at 10, hit a poor tee shot at 16 but again bounced back.

“It was case of not getting frustrated and it was a nice way to finish as finishing level par would have left me feeling it had been a round that got away.

“At 17, I hit a driver-rescue and then a poor chip but holed it from 15 feet then hit a wedge to 15 feet at the last. It’s a good start on a course that can be tricky at times.”

David Law didn’t exactly find that to be the case as he carded seven birdies in eight holes to lead after the opening circuit.

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The Aberdonian’s brilliant seven-under 64 gave him a one-shot advantage at the end of the opening circuit, with Calum Hill also to the fore after a 67.

Lothians star Grant Forrest opened with a 70, which was illuminated by a chip in for an eagle-3 at the 10th.

“I played nicely and that was as high as it could have been, really,” he said. “I was happy with how I hit the ball today, I just couldn’t make a putt.”

“I was pretty pleased overall for a first competitive round since early March.”