Golf: Richie Ramsay hits peak with Swiss victory

SCOTLAND’S Richie Ramsay captured the biggest title of his professional career yesterday, shooting a five-under 66 to win the European Masters in the Swiss Alps by four strokes.

The overnight leader after a blemish-free 64 in his third round, Ramsay never once squandered the lead in the final round. Five birdies on the opening nine holes set up the 29-year-old, and although he bogeyed 13 and 17, an eagle on the par-five 14th made sure of a 16-under 267 total and a victory which will see him move from No 110 in the world rankings into the top 70.

“I played really well,” said Ramsay, whose previous title came at the South African Open three years ago. “It was nice to gradually gain some momentum through the week and find some form as the week went on. As the week went on, I got better and better and I couldn’t be happier.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Ramsay had never led a tour event after 54 holes, and fellow Scot Paul Lawrie was the favourite at the start of play yesterday as he sought back-to-back victories after winning the Johnnie Walker Championship. In the end, Lawrie shot 70 for a share of sixth place in his last tournament before joining Europe’s Ryder Cup team ahead of this month’s match at Medinah.

Second place was shared by Fredrik Andersson Hed of Sweden, Marcus Fraser of Australia, France’s Romain Wattel and Danny Willett of England, who played in the final threesome with Ramsay and Lawrie.

After three days of rain, fog and low temperatures in the Swiss Alps, the players finally enjoyed bright sunshine yesterday on the Seve Ballesteros-designed course circled by snow-capped mountains.

Ramsay began his round with a one-stroke lead and was quickly joined at 12 under by Lawrie, who made eagle as the younger Scot made birdie.

Despite missing birdie chances at the fifth and sixth holes, Ramsay completed the outward nine in 31. He led by three at the turn from Willett, as Lawrie was let down by his driving off the tee.

Ramsay stretched his lead to five before dropping his first shot since Friday afternoon at the par-3 13th. He effectively sealed the title by holing his approach shot – a wedge from 130 yards – for eagle at the par-5 14th. “I just put my foot on the gas and that gave me some breathing space. It’s just incredible, the whole day went to plan,” added Ramsay, who said that the victory would move his career “up a notch. It definitely pushes me to another level”.

Ramsay, who is based in Atlanta, memorably burst on to the scene when winning the 2006 United States Amateur Championship, and last night he reflected: “It’s a bigger win than the US Amateur. If you look at the field and the place and the way that I did it.”

The four players who finished in a tie for second just couldn’t build enough momentum over the course of the day to catch Ramsay. Fraser (66) birdied the first and seventh before making a strong start to the back nine registering under-par scores on 10 and 11. A bogey at the 12th temporarily halted the Australian’s momentum, but birdies on 14 and 17 secured a share of the runners-up spot.

Andersson Hed (66) produced a bogeyless round, with birdies at one, seven, 14, 15 and 17, while Wattel dropped just one shot, at five, while scoring six birdies as the top four all finished with rounds of 66.