Golf: Success overdue for gutsy Raymond Russell
IF ANYONE deserves a place at the top table in European golf next season, then surely it has to be Raymond Russell.
Two years ago, the Lothians man overcame a career-threatening shoulder injury to secure a card for the main Tour off the Challenge Tour money-list.
After a spell in the wilderness, things were on the up again for the man who won on the European Tour as a rookie – in 1996 – then finished fourth in the 1998 Open at Birkdale.
But Russell was only able to compete in one event last year before contracting a debilitating virus that left him in a weakened state on the golf course.
It meant a return to the Challenge Tour this season to start again from scratch but, once more, Russell is showing guts and determination to get back up the ladder.
His win on Saturday in the Challenge Provincia di Varese – the first Scottish success on the second-tier circuit in two full years – has catapulted the 39-year-old to sixth on the money-list.
The top 20 at the end of the season earn cards for the main Tour and with the Scot in good form heading into the busiest part of the schedule, he’s now well on course to earn that chance to make up for lost time.
“I’ve felt it coming the last few weeks,” said Russell after carding a final-round three-under-par 67 at Golf Club Varese in northern Italy to win by a shot from Argentine Daniel Vancsik.
“I played nicely in Saint-Omer for a spell and in Madeira I played well.
“I had an old caddie friend, who caddies for Grégory Havret, on my bag and he told me to just keep doing what I was doing and it’ll turn.
“So it’s been coming and it’s nice to finish it off.”
Russell finished 14th and 16th on what is now the Race to Dubai in 1996 and 1997, but he wasn’t scared to swallow his pride a few years back by playing on a mixture of third-tier circuits to get his career back on track.
“I’m a realist,” he said at the time. “Golf isn’t due me a living. You have to earn everything you get. I just have to get on with it and play better.”
He’s certainly doing that again and if organisers of the Scottish Open still have a spare invitation up their sleeve, Russell is surely a worthy contender.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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