HAVING enjoyed instant success with a new driver and irons in his bag, Richie Ramsay is hopeful he can secure a return to Augusta National this year for the first time since he played in The Masters as an amateur in 2007.
The Aberdonian just missed out on the first batch of coveted invitations for the opening major of the season after climbing to 57th in the world rankings at the end of 2012.
He needs to get into the top 50 by the end of March and his first target of the year is to make the WGC Match Play event in Arizona next month.
“It’s probably the big one for me,” he admitted after opening with a three-under-par 69 in the Volvo Golf Champions at Durban Country Club. “I think a big part of me getting to Augusta is playing in the Match Play due to the world rankings points being so big in that.”
Ramsay, who made his Masters debut after winning the 2006 US Amateur Championship, had his appetite whetted for a possible return there by his pro-am playing partners on Wednesday.
“They were getting me to describe Augusta and I said I couldn’t really compare it to any other course in terms of aura – it’s like a magical place,” he added. “It would be incredible if I could be heading there again and the fact I spend half my time in Atlanta these days would make it extra special.”
Ramsay, who sparked his climb up the world rankings by winning the European Masters in Switzerland in September, was delighted with his first competitive outing since the end of November. “I was happy with the way I played today, especially considering I had a new driver and new irons in the bag,” he admitted. “It was the first real test for them today and they passed with flying colours. I’ve got new TaylorMade RBZ blades which I tested in America and the ball flight is definitely a bit higher so I am able to stop the ball a bit quicker, which is especially good when you are playing downwind. I feel good with the driver as well and I feel that I can hit that a bit further, especially when the courses aren’t running that much.
“The best thing about today is that I committed to a lot of shots and I felt quite confident over them.”
After an enjoyable break that included a delayed two-week honeymoon in Cape Town with his wife Angela, Ramsay is happy to be back at the coalface again.
“It’s what I do for a living but I also enjoy it and it’s nice to get in the mix again and playing competitively,” said the 29-year-old. “Much as though it is fun trying to take money off your mates, this is a bit better. I feel good for the early part of the season.
“It was great to have the break but the fact I took that, I’m quite motivated and eager to get out there and play again. I feel fresh and ready to go. The plan at the moment is to play all the Middle East events but, if I have a really good week somewhere, I might pass on one of them.”