By his own admission, Richie Ramsay has spent the last five weeks driving his American wife, Angela, around the bend as he struggled to keep himself occupied during an enforced lay-off due to a serious eye infection.
The Aberdonian isn’t entirely sure that he is fully recovered from what was diagnosed as Anterior Uveitis, a relatively rare complaint, so doesn’t really know what to expect when he returns to action tomorrow in the £4.6 million Turkish Airlines Open here in Belek.
When I went out to play in the pro-am, somebody said ‘your eye is really red.’ When I looked in the mirror, it certainly was and it got worseRichie Ramsay
Having laid the foundations with some strong performances, including a third European Tour title triumph in the Hassan Trophy in Morocco, in the spring and early summer, Ramsay is determined, however, to reignite his 2015 campaign in the lucrative Final Series and give himself a springboard for next season.
“It gets a bit worrying when they start talking about sight problems,” Ramsay told The Scotsman on the practice putting green at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal, where world No 3 Rory McIlroy is the star attraction on this occasion after an appearance by Tiger Woods in the same event two years ago.
Recalling his last appearance in the Italian Open at Monza, he added: “It was a bit sore in the morning and then, when I went out to play in the pro-am, somebody said ‘your eye is really red’. When I looked in the mirror, it certainly was and it got worse. I quickly went to see both the optician and the doctor, and they said they would need to refer me to the eye doc. I met him and he said it was Anterior Uveitis, one of those things that comes out of the blue but would mean me requiring six weeks of eye drops.”
He’s down to one a day but is understandably anxious as he prepares to join Marc Warren, Stephen Gallacher and David Drysdale in flying the flag in an event that boasts a £750,000 top prize, as well as double points in the Race to Dubai. “One of the problems with the drops is that it disables your eye,” added the 32-year-old, who is lying 46th on those standings and has to stay inside the top 60 before the cut-off for the DP World Tour Championship on 16 November to get into that season-ending extravaganza.
“Looking at a ball then looking at distance stops the muscle, so focusing is really, really hard. It’s still noticeable that my right eye is way stronger so lining up putts is a bit hard. Reading greens is going to be a little bit harder, especially from distance, and at the moment I feel like I’m aiming left of where I should be aiming. If I shut my left eye I can read that sign over there perfectly. If I shut my right eye it’s a blur.”
Having been on course to challenge his career-best 26th on the European money list in 2012, Ramsay described his lay-off as “frustrating” and is champing at the bit as he gets ready to return to the competitive fray. “I could be waiting to Christmas for it to clear completely, so I felt I had to come back and play a bit before the end of the season,” he commented. “When I spend time at home, I drive my wife scatty as I need to be doing something, holing putts or going to the gym. I’ve been trying to occupy my time doing some good work at The Renaissance Club, and making sure when I come back I’m at my optimum.”
With Warren the only Scot currently eligible for next week’s HSBC Champions in Shanghai, Ramsay has this event and the BMW Masters, also in the Chinese capital, in a fortnight’s time to cement his place in the season-ending tournament in Dubai before starting to turn his thoughts to 2016 targets. “I’d probably say the next four weeks are a platform for next season,” he said.
“Ideally, I’d like to get into the Nedbank Challenge (a £4 million event in South Africa in early December) while I’d also love to qualify for the EurAsia Cup (to be held in Malaysia in mid-January). I think it goes off the Race to Dubai, and being out the last six weeks obviously doesn’t help. But, if you win one of these Final Series events, suddenly you are right in the mix.
“I’d love to play in one of those team events. I wanted to play in the Seve Trophy or Royal Trophy as I love team events. In amateur golf, when I played for Scotland, you had six guys round you and I miss that a little bit. You don’t get the chance to do it in the pro game.”
While currently sitting as the last man in, 60th-ranked Gallacher is confident he can go the distance in that Race to Dubai. “My last two completed events have been massive from a confidence point of view,” said the 40-year-old of following up an encouraging performance in the Dunhill Links by finishing in the top ten in the Portugal Masters.