RICHIE Ramsay, one of four Scots to make the halfway cut in the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship, is hoping it will be third time lucky in his bid to drive off with a £50,000 Cadillac car.
It’s the prize up for grabs for a hole-in-one at the 200-yard seventh at Abu Dhabi Golf Club this week and the Aberdonian is certainly giving it his best shot.
Having come within a foot on Thursday, a determined Ramsay had “another stiff at it” with a shot that pitched just to the left of the hole.
“I’ve been trying to get a sponsor’s car for a wee while and I’ve got another two attempts at this one over the weekend,” said the 29-year-old after catapulting himself up the leaderboard with a four-under 68.
It moved him into a tie for 15th on three-under and now Ramsay has his sights set on collecting some of the world ranking points that have been freed up following the shock early exits by Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods.
Lying 53rd, the Scot is on course to make his debut in next month’s WGC Match Play in Arizona but needs to get into the top 50 by the end of March to earn a Masters invitation.
“I played lovely today,” he said of a round that was highlighted by a burst of four birdies in five holes from the ninth, where the run was ignited by a 25-footer. “I missed one fairway and even that was in the semi rough. Staying out of the rough is essential.”
Accuracy as opposed to length is the strength of Ramsay’s game but even he was impressed with one of his efforts on a course that is playing to its full 7,454 yards. “At the second hole, I must have hit it 280-290 on the fly, which for a little guy from Scotland isn’t bad,” he said. “Also, the great thing about my new irons is that I can stop the ball a bit quicker as they are coming in a bit higher and that helped as the greens firmed up.”
Boosted by two birdies in his first three holes, Stirling’s Craig Lee carded a 70 to sit joint-24th on two-under, one ahead of Peter Whiteford (70) and two in front of Paul Lawrie (71).
Whiteford played “terrible” on day one but the Fifer got his new driver working for the second round and is determined to improve on finishing 110th in last season’s Race to Dubai.
“If I can get off to a faster start this year I’ll enjoy my golf rather than worrying about order of merits. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to relax and play golf,” he said.
Lawrie, who defends his Qatar Masters title in Doha next week, bemoaned another frustrating day on the greens, something he’s become accustomed to at this venue.
“Yesterday was the most frustrating day I’ve had for a long time,” said the world No 29. “I played beautifully and had 33 putts. Today I had 30, which is a bit better but still not great. I’ve always struggled with the greens here, whereas in Qatar I always seem to putt well.”
Among the eight other members of the Scottish contingent to miss the cut was Race to Dubai leader Scott Jamieson, who had started his 2013 campaign by finishing first, third and second in South Africa. The Glaswegian finished joint-89th on five-over.
“It’s still been a great spell,” said the world No 72, who is hoping to join Lawrie and Ramsay in the WGC Match Play field by climbing into the top 64 by the end of the Middle East Swing.