David Drysdale is hoping 2018 is the year when he finally breaks his duck on the European Tour and, to that end, the Cockburnspath man will be wishing the BMW SA Open produces another golfing fairytale when he re-embarks on that quest today.
It’s no wonder that Drysdale talks about being “proud” of his career when you consider he has chalked up 441 appearances on the circuit since his debut in 1999, holds full playing privileges for the tenth season in a row and has earned close to £4.5 million.
However, there is no denying a feeling of frustration that, despite all his hard graft over the years and coming close on a handful of occasions, including a couple of second-placed finishes, the 42-year-old is still seeking that maiden victory.
“The win is the thing I’m after,” confessed Drysdale in a player blog on europeantour.com ahead of the circuit’s first event of the year at Glendower Golf Club in Johannesburg, where the field also includes Marc Warren and Bradley Neil. “The goal is to get that first one and then go after the second one.
“My first year was 2002 and I’ve had some sort of status every year since then. I’ve not had many chances to win an event, but have had two or three second and third places where someone else has put together something special in the last couple of holes.”
Drysdale finished 56th in last season’s Race to Dubai, helped by a top 10 behind Graeme Storm in this event – he also ended up 11th at the same venue in 2015 – as the Englishman beat Rory McIlroy in a play-off to claim victory a few months after fearing he’d lost his card only to earn an unexpected reprieve.
“Last season was a great year,” added Drysdale, who is sticking with his wife, Vicky, as caddie after the pair worked well together in 2017. “Whenever you make the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, you’ve had a good season. I feel like I played three decent rounds out of four for most of the year.
“There was a lot of good golf, but I just didn’t string four rounds together. I played beautifully for two days at the Open and also at the Irish Open, where I finished in a tie for fourth and closed with seven birdies, so I feel I could have threatened more there.
“You can talk about fitness levels, being tired, concentration and lots of other things when you’re talking about consistency. That’s just the game. One day you think you’ve got it cracked and the next day it just bites you.
“I’d love to make the Open again this year. I’ve only played it twice, at Turnberry in 2009 and Royal Birkdale last year. I loved everything about it. It’s a huge goal to make Carnoustie this year and that road starts this week in South Africa.”
In contrast to Drysdale, Neil is beginning his first year at the top table in European golf. Still 21, this is his third event since graduating from the Challenge Tour and he’s looking forward to the task in a field headed by home favourites Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace.
“I’m feeling refreshed after the Christmas break,” said Neil, who needs to play his way into next week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. “It was great to relax at home with family and friends while reminiscing about what I had achieved in 2017, but I’m delighted to be back out completing.
“I saw Mark Bull [golf biomechanics and science] and Phil Kenyon [putting] with my coach, Kevin Hale, before coming out here to help make improvements to the game, which I’ve continued to work on this week.
“I’m feeling positive about this week and the year ahead. I will just have to keep working hard on the areas I feel need improving, enjoy my golf and see where it goes from there.”