The first of three Scots out in the third round is now five shots clear of the other two. As Stephen Gallacher and Duncan Stewart saw their hopes of securing Open spots all but disappear after struggling to 79 and 78 respectively, Richie Ramsay leapfrogged his compatriots with a battling display.
Ramsay, pictured, who secured his place in the season’s third Major by finishing in a tie for second in the Irish Open at Portstewart last Sunday, signed for a 72 to sit joint-23rd on two-under. His round started and finished with birdies.
“All in all, I’m reasonably happy to get in relatively unscathed,” said the Aberdonian, who is set to join former winners Sandy Lyle and Paul Lawrie, as well as Russell Knox, Martin Laird, David Drysdale and amateur Connor Syme in flying the Saltire in Southport. “The only hole I took my waterproof jacket off was on the 18th. It just wouldn’t relent. It’s part and parcel of the Scottish Open. It’s one of those days just to stick in and get the head down.”
According to Ramsay, the conditions were the most difficult he’d encountered for quite some time. “This is as tough as it’s been on the Tour for a while. There were a few hard holes in Ireland, but this was pretty hard going,” he added. “The ball is not going far on the ground, so it’s playing pretty long. You have to kind of stick in and use that grim Scottish determination to get through it.”
Seven days after earning a career-best £466,604, Ramsay is on course for another big pay-day in this £5.5 million event. “I’ll got out and give it 100 per cent,” he declared. “A nice number on the final day will make the drive down to Birkdale that bit better.”
Gallacher’s hopes of making that journey started to hit buffers after he dropped three shots in the first three holes while Stewart’s pain came at the end as he finished bogey-double bogey. They both now sit on three-over, sharing 58th spot.
Among the nine home players to miss the cut was Scottish No 1 Knox, who came up agonisingly short in the end after it looked as though he’d creep into the weekend along with Marc Warren and Jack Doherty on level-par.
“It would have felt like a turning point if I’d made it,” admitted Knox, who has slipped from 18th to 48th in the world rankings after hitting a sticky patch. “My problem has been I can’t get off to a good start. Round one is killing me. I’m always battling to make the cut. It has been a long time since I cruised to a nice three or four- under first round so I could relax into the tournament.“