It may have been a short close-season for Europe’s top golfers but life certainly hasn’t been quiet for Scott Jamieson since bringing his 2016 campaign to a close in Portugal six weeks ago. He’s become a dad for the second time after baby son Oscar’s arrival on 18 November and, earlier this week, the Glaswegian celebrated his 33th birthday.
Today, in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek in South Africa, Jamieson starts out on his seventh consecutive season on the European Tour, and he’s determined it won’t end, as the last two campaigns have, in a close shave. On both occasions, he cut it fine in terms of holding on to his card, finishing 106th in the Race to Dubai in 2015 then 107th last season.
With the introduction of the new Access List, a top-100 finish will be required on this occasion to retain a seat at European golf’s top table, but, having taken confidence from the way he finished last season, Jamieson has his sights set on more than just survival over the next 12 months.
“I feel good after such a strong finish under the greatest pressure possible probably,” he said, having made the cut in seven out of his last nine events to join his good friend, Marc Warren, in digging deep over the final few weeks of the campaign to secure playing privileges for another season. “My stroke average for my last 10 events was sub-70, so obviously if I can keep that form going into the new season I’ll be in great shape.”
Jamieson, whose sole European Tour triumph came in South Africa, where he won the Nelson Mandela Championship in 2013, joins David Drysdale and Scott Henry in this week’s field as the Alfred Dunhill Championship gets the new season underway along with the Australian PGA Championship.
“It might be difficult this week after some time off, but I love this event and wanted to keep my eye in a little as I won’t play again until the Middle East,” added Jamieson, who is also on the entry list for next week’s UBS Hong Kong Open along with Drysdale and Stephen Gallacher while Duncan Stewart, who is currently second reserve, could also join them at Fanling. “I’ve also got some new equipment to test, so I wanted to get that in play under tournament conditions rather than on the mat at the range at home.”
A proud family man, Jamieson could easily have opted to be at home to help his wife, Natalie, with baby Oscar, a brother for Zoey. Like all leading sportsmen and sportswomen, though, he appreciates that sacrifices have to be made and a good finish either in South Africa or Hong Kong could easily help the final few weeks of this season being a lot less stressful than the past two.
“Leaving home definitely gets tougher as the family grows and the kids change all the time,” admitted Jamieson, whose best finish last season was joint-seventh in the Italian Open, having tied for 10th in the KLM Open immediately prior to that. “But my wife’s mum is over from the States to help out, so I know everyone’s in good hands.”
There’s a good chance that one of the first titles up for grabs in the 2017 campaign will end up in Charl Schwartzel’s hands. The South African, after, has dominated this event, winning it four times and finishing in the top two eight times in his last 12 outings. The former Masters champion is a combined 122- under for the tournament, 77 strokes better than anyone else.
In the Australian PGA Championship, four Scots - Gallacher, Stewart, Ross Kellett and Bradley Neil - have world No 7 Adam Scott among their rivals at the RACV Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast in Queensland.