10 Feb 2023

Richie Ramsay – From agony to ecstasy

Richie Ramsay’s a history maker and record breaker. The Scotsman returned to the winners’ circle last year after triumphing at the Cazoo Classic, edging his name closer to the top of British golf once more. Will Kent caught up with the four-time DP World Tour champion for a deep dive into his career so far.

Ramsay answered the phone to me while on his freezing cold walk to the gym in Edinburgh. After 15 years as a professional with six high-profile lucrative wins, it would be easy to swap his icy commute to the dumbbells for a night in with Netflix. Instead, the 39-year-old is chasing longevity with hopes that more success is on the horizon following a memorable 2022.

But this sport hasn’t always been kind to the Scotsman. He came within a whisker of claiming the Betfred British Masters last year with his approach shot on the 72nd hole falling into the water. It was still enough to finish in a share of third place and while that may seem like a great result for a player who has endured stretches of mediocre form, it was a genuine nightmare.

“Sometimes the hardest thing is to go from a super high to a super low,” said Ramsay. “The British Masters was pretty much that. I was in tears that night, I have to be honest about it. After quite a while of not winning, it was just one shot. You don’t sleep, you just don’t sleep. It’s not just one night. It carries on for a while. One thing I’m very good at is I’m very resilient. Being a little bit older, I’m not talking about sport, but talking about life, you realise that failure is your biggest learning potential. Once that passed, you sit down and look at it, you try to extract the emotion out of it which is very difficult. I can either use it as fuel and learn from it, or go on a downward spiral that gets out of control to ruin the season.”

That wayward shot at the Belfry wasn’t the only time Ramsay’s suffered emotional pain inflicted by the game of golf. Life on tour isn’t always the glitz and glamour that we watch on the television every week. The pressure of making the cut is undoubtedly immense when you’re struggling, something which the Aberdonian understands all too well.

“The other low point in my career was when I was starting out in Switzerland,” he continued. “I started off the first round and for some reason, I don’t know why, I walked in the locker room afterwards I was basically in tears. Things weren’t going my way. When you turn pro, there’s quite a lot of pressure on you. I just remember basically sobbing in the corner. I was finding it difficult, things weren’t clicking – off the course as well as on the course.”

While these struggles seem lodged in Ramsay’s memory like cement, his career is still flooded with incredible highs. In 2006, he became the first British golfer for 95 years to win the US Amateur Championship. Since then he’s gone on win four times on the DP World Tour, with his most recent triumph coming at Hillside Golf Club last July.

“You saw my reaction when I holed that putt to win,” said Ramsay. “That was part for my daughter, but part was the British Masters defeat. That was a cool moment. It’s great being at the top of mountain but you’re really tested when you’re at the bottom. It’s really one of those moments when you need good people around you and it’s fortunate that I had that. It was great to get over the line again after a long time.”

Winning again was the result of Ramsay’s hard work in trying to simplify the game after spending a lot of time overcomplicating it. He finished in the top ten for driving accuracy and greens in regulation last year, which is testament to his graft as well as his collaboration with Callaway.

“Sticking to what I know has been important as well as trusting the people around me,” Ramsay responded when asked how he improved last season. “A big thing is trying to be the best that I can be. With social media, it’s very easy to compare yourself and see what others are doing. It’s about trusting the process and trusting my coach, not getting pulled off onto tangents about what other players are doing. It’s very easy to go searching for stuff. You’ve got to realise what you have is really, really good and by making a small but simple change you can increase stats in areas where needed. It can be tiny, tiny gains over one or two rounds but over the course of a season it’s massive.”

MAKING THE RYDER CUP…

Three top ten finishes in 2022 including his attention-grabbing victory at the Cazoo Classic rocketed Ramsay closer to the spotlight for a potential Ryder Cup selection. Still, he has a fight on his hands if he is to topple the host of other Europeans all bidding for a spot in the team. His chances of making Luke Donald’s side are unlikely as it stands, but there’s still a lot of golf to be played from now until the trip to Rome in September.

“If I was honest, I would say there’s a maximum of four spots up for grabs,” said Ramsay. “There’s going to be a fight with some guys needing to prove themselves more than others. I have a couple of things that I think go against me but I have lots of positive stuff. Again, I’ve got to realise what I’ve just done. If you play well against the best players I would think that’s where they are going to measure you so you really need to be in those top tournaments. I’m comfortable on the outside looking in. There are a ton of guys ahead of me. Winning the British Masters would have given me a far better chance but there are two simple words in golf; play better. I need to force them to pick me by playing better in the big tournaments.”

DP WORLD TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP…

The dust may have just settled on Jumeirah Golf Estates for another year, but it won’t be too long before we’re back watching the best battle it out for the DP World Tour Championship once more. Traditionally it’s a course which has suited the big hitters, with the likes of Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm feeling at home on the track which measures over 7,700 yards. Despite the clear advantage of having huge length off the tee, Ramsay has still enjoyed relative success there. His share of 16th place last year was solid and he appears to have worked out how to navigate his way around the Earth course.

“I definitely want to be back there this year,” added the former Walker Cup player. “I’ll be honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the golf course when it started. But I think last year it was hotter than usual in Dubai and the Bermuda (grass) was a nightmare to hit out of so it put a premium on hitting fairways, so straight away I’m like ‘this is great’. I really enjoyed that element.”

The result earned Ramsay a further 156 DP World Tour Rankings which secured him 19th in the season-long standings – his best finish in over a decade on tour. Positive moments like this can only serve as motivation to secure his spot there again this coming November.

“It’s a brilliant time to be in Dubai that time of year with friends and family able to watch you, playing against some of the best players in the world,” he added. “It has all the ingredients to be the showcase and finish the season the way you want to. I do always look at the tournament to aim to get back there. That’s my target.”

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