HAVING already helped him become the first Irishman to secure the Ryder Cup captaincy, Scott Jamieson would love to be on Paul McGinley’s European team for next year’s match at Gleneagles.
McGinley has acknowledged the role played by Jamieson in him clinching the coveted post, the Scot having won a crucial last-day match in the 2011 Seve Trophy as Great Britain & Ireland beat Continental Europe.
A rookie, Jamieson played a huge part as McGinley’s side overcame a spirited fightback by Jean van de Velde’s team in France, turning the tide with a one-hole victory over Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal as GB&I won 15.5-12.5 at St Nom-la-Breteche.
It was McGinley’s second success as captain in the event and, though certainly not the only factor as he’d served as an assistant to both Colin Montgomerie and Jose Maria Olazabal in the last two Ryder Cups, the Paris win in particular didn’t do him any harm at all for the Perthshire position.
“Paul told me in Qatar [the week after he’d been appointed ahead of Montgomerie, Sandy Lyle, Paul Lawrie and Miguel Angel Jimenez] this year that if I hadn’t won my match in the Seve Trophy he might not have been Ryder Cup captain today,” said Jamieson.
The 29-year-old described McGinley as an “excellent captain” who made him “feel at ease”. He also appreciated his skipper turning up to offer encouragement when it became apparent his match was the crucial one. “I think he was there just in case I needed him,” he said.
Whether McGinley was in charge or not, Jamieson wouldn’t be lacking motivation to be involved in the first Ryder Cup to be held in the home of golf for 40 years. “Myself and the Scottish boys do talk about Gleneagles,” he admitted. “Not all the time but occasionally as we all want to be there.”
He’s hoping to enjoy a change of luck in Wales when the qualifying race starts at Celtic Manor in September and, if not before then, is aiming to be in the world’s top 50 heading into 2014. “You dream about the Ryder Cup and when you get into the top 100 in the world, it makes you realise it’s not that far away,” said the 90th-ranked player on the planet. “When you start getting close to the top 50, you realise it’s a possibility rather than just an idea in your head.
“You maybe don’t have to be in the world’s top 50 when the points race starts. I think Paul Lawrie was just outside it when the points race started for Medinah, but then he finished second in the Dubai World Championship and followed that up with a couple of wins and that made all the difference.
“But I’d say that you definitely have to be in the top 50 by the turn of the year to ensure you get in all the WGCs and majors next year to give yourself a decent run at it.
“I’ve got Wales in my head already as I know that’s where the points start counting for Gleneagles. Unfortunately, I’ve never made the cut at Celtic Manor and I remember driving away from there last year thinking, ‘I’m never coming back’.
“My wife, in fact, pointed out that I’d never made a cut as a professional in Wales, having also failed on the Challenge Tour. But I will be going back this year.”
This week Jamieson, who is still sitting in the top ten in this season’s Race to Dubai after starting the campaign by finishing first, third and second in his opening three events, is in Bulgaria for the Volvo Match Play Championship at Thracian Cliffs on the Black Sea coast, where he is joined in the 24-strong select field by compatriot Stephen Gallacher.
It’s Jamieson’s first outing since he signed off with an 83 to finish second last among the qualifiers for the final two rounds in the Volvo China Open two weeks ago.
“I started last in the field and had a bad start,” he said of that disappointment before adding with refreshing honesty: “Let’s say my interest levels weren’t where they should have been. I hate to admit that, but it happens sometimes, especially when you are millions of miles from home.”
Home for the Match Play Championship for a long time, of course, was Wentworth. After being held at Finca Cortesin in Spain for three out of the past four years, it’s now moved again and this week’s field is headed by defending champion Nicolas Colsaerts and Ryder Cup talisman Ian Poulter.
“I used to watch the Match Play on television when it was at Wentworth and, while it would have been even cooler to have been playing in it there, it’s still the same tournament so it’s great to be playing in it anywhere,” said Jamieson, who along with Gallacher doesn’t enter the action until tomorrow.
“I’ve seen all the golf clubs in the Wentworth clubhouse that have been donated by the winners down the years and there’s some strange looking instruments among them. That shows there’s a lot of history attached to the tournament and it’s a great event.”
With an American wife – he met Natalie during his time at Augusta State University – it’s no surprise that Jamieson has the PGA Tour “in my sights”, though his spouse, it seems, doesn’t seem to mind the dreary Scottish weather too much.
“My wife doesn’t put pressure on me, even though she’s American,” said Jamieson.
“If anything, it’s probably the other way around. I was on the website the other day looking for a house in America and she was asking ‘why?’”
• Scott Jamieson was speaking at a ‘Lisa’s Challenge for Maggie’s’ event at Royal Burgess. Donations at www.lisaschallengeformaggies.co.uk