IT WOULD be heart-breaking. Missing out on a Scottish Open appearance on the very course where he cut his golfing teeth. Unfortunately for Richie Ramsay, that is a distinct possibility as far at this week’s Aberdeen Asset Management-sponsored event is concerned.
Due to a shoulder and neck injury that has prevented him from hitting a single shot since pulling out of last week’s French Open, the Granite City native rates his chances of teeing up in tomorrow’s opening round at Royal Aberdeen as no more than “50-50”.
If it was any other event, he would be sitting at home with his feet up today. Not surprisingly, though, he is keen to give himself every chance of making it on to that first tee and receiving the warmest of welcomes.
He will make a decision today and won’t be selfish. “It’s not fair on the first reserve or myself if I play then have to pull out after a few holes, so it will be on the range where I decide whether to play or not,” he said.
For his sake, it is to be hoped that Ramsay wakes up this morning and feels infinitely better, though the tone of his voice suggested that was unlikely. It is not only Paul Lawrie, after all, who has had this week marked in thick red marker on the 2014 calendar.
Few players get the chance to play on a European Tour event on home soil and it has had Ramsay licking his lips in anticipation.
“This year, I’ve been thinking about rolling putts from ten feet to win the Scottish Open, not to win The Open,” said Ramsay of what this particular week means to him. “I just wanted that chance to have that putt. But we’re just going to have to wait and see how it goes.”
As this event is that circuit’s first visit to Aberdeen, it may be a long time in coming around again. Yet, if Ramsay does miss out, he will take it firmly on the chin after being reminded last week that he plays a sport for a living while others are fighting wars.
“I’m not having the best of years really,” said the two-times European Tour winner in reference to a series of injuries and illnesses. “You sit there and get depressed about it and think, ‘Jesus, nothing’s ever going to turn around and all I want to do is go and play golf’.
“But then the flip side is that you look at it and realise I’m not really having too much hardship. I’m not doing some of the things that some other guys do and get a lot of credit for.
Like down at Kingsfield (his practice base outside Linlithgow) the other day when a guy who has been fighting in Afghanistan walked in.
“He was telling me about what happened and what he went through. You’re standing there and you’ve hurt your neck and he’s been getting shot at by a sniper.
“I’m lucky to be in a position where I’m living my dream. But, in this game it’s easy for your mental state to just push you way under and then everything feels like it’s on top of you. You think you’re the unluckiest person in the world, so it’s nice to have doses of perspective like that occasionally.”
Of all the home players in this week’s field – it will be a 16-strong Scottish contingent if Ramsay makes the first tee – few are likely to be relishing the £3 million event more than Russell Knox.
Living in Inverness at the time, he played this very course as an amateur. Indeed, it was a decent performance in the 2004 Scottish Stroke-Play Championship that convinced him to pursue a career in golf rather than football.
Based on his efforts on the PGA Tour this season – he is sitting 39th in the FedEx Cup –that certainly proved a shrewd decision and now the 29-year-old is looking forward to making his first appearance on Scottish soil as a professional.
“I’ve had to wait seven years for it and hopefully it will be well worth the wait,” said Knox, who might be confident that one sunny day in Jacksonville, where he lives, will be followed by one after the other but knows that certainly isn’t the case in Scotland.
“It was a shame how perfect the weather is today because when you play a links course and it’s this nice, you get a false sense of how difficult the course actually is,” he said, smiling.
“The course is absolutely perfect and I love links golf, but I know come Thursday when I tee off it’s going to be pouring rain and blowing 20 miles an hour and just extremely difficult.”
Knox has an American twang and is firmly ensconced in Florida, but one of his long-term goals is to make an appearance for Europe in the Ryder Cup.
“I’ve been in the United States for a long time now, I’m very happy there and I see myself living there for the rest of my life,” he admitted.
“I definitely see myself as being 100 per cent Scottish, though, and hopefully I’ll get home more often in the future. I love links golf. I love the people. I love everything about this country.
“Hopefully my game progresses to a point where I need to take up (European Tour) membership and play more here for teams down the road, which I would be thrilled with.”