He’s travelled from Hong Kong via Cockburnspath, hardly slept a wink for four days and had his preparations limited to a few holes. But David Drysdale, the last man in to the Turkish Airlines Open in Belek, certainly isn’t here to make up the numbers.
Buoyed by the month-long run of good form that swept away fears of a return to the European Tour Qualifying School as he climbed from outside the top 120 to 88th in the Race to Dubai, the 40-year-old has his sights set on staying around in the Final Series.
“I won’t be playing the HSBC Champions,” he said of next week’s WGC event in Shanghai, “but this is a big-money event, so a top-five or top-six finish would probably get me into the BMW Masters (also being held in the Chinese capital in a fortnight’s time) and I’ve played well enough in the last few weeks to be able to do that.”
Having initially thought he’d missed out on this welcome chance by one spot, Drysdale got in when Englishman Eddie Pepperell withdrew due to injury, though the Scot went through a gamut of emotions – not to mention clocking up thousands of air miles – before it was finally confirmed his season had been extended. “On arriving in Dubai on my way back from Hong Kong, having decided to go all the way home after it seemed I wasn’t in the field, I saw that Brooks Koepka had come off the money list, so that moved me to 87th but I still wasn’t in the field for here,” said Drysdale.
“I still wasn’t in when I got back to Newcastle, so I phoned Wentworth [the European Tour’s headquarters] and said, ‘this is ridiculous, why am I not in it?’ Ten minutes later, I got a phone call back to say, ‘Eddie Pepperell is out, so you are in’ and I’m delighted to be here, though I haven’t slept much the last three or four days and have only been able to play a few holes after arriving on Tuesday night.”
Still playing relatively pain-free despite tearing his right calf muscle getting out of a bunker in the Italian Open five weeks ago, Drysdale revealed his journey from Edinburgh to Antalya via Gatwick had included a scare after picking up Tuesday’s copy of this newspaper.
“I’ve changed to the Matt Kuchar-technique with my putting,” he said of an arm-lock grip introduced by the American in the countdown to anchoring being banned at the start of 2016.
“I saw the story in The Scotsman yesterday about the R&A Rules review, and noticed a massive photograph of Matt Kuchar, and thought, ‘Jesus, have they banned that method as well!’”That’s not the case, so Drysdale can continue a method he’s been pracitising for the last 18 months but only started using it competitively in the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play at Murcar Links in late July. “I’m quite a traditionalist, but I holed a nice 20-footer at the 19th hole to beat Thomas Pieters in the first round and have been using that method ever since,” he said.
“As much as I’ve done well the last few weeks, I could have done a lot better as I’ve been in the top three or four in driving accuracy and I’ve hit 80 per cent of both fairways and greens. Your putting numbers are never going to look great when you’re hitting that many greens, but I could definitely hole more.”