THERE was no shortage of Scottish spirit on display at Murcar Links on the opening day of the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Matchplay.
In addition to Chris Doak, David Drysdale and Richie Ramsay also dug deep to advance to the second round, where five home players are still standing from a six-strong starting contingent.
Three down after six, Drysdale fought back to beat Thomas Pieters, a promising young Belgian, with a 25-foot birdie putt at the first extra hole. “That was the only time I was up in the game,” said the delighted Cockburnspath man, who recounted a tale about his last match-play experience.
“It was the Scottish Matchplay at Glasgow Gailes and I think it was in 1997,” recalled Drysdale, who now meets former Ryder Cup player David Howell after he also squeezed through at the 19th against fellow Englishman Daniel Brooks. “I played Jim Farmer in one of my games and Derek Small [his boss at Dunbar at the time] said he’d sack me if I didn’t beat him. Thankfully, I did.”
Ramsay, the course-record holder here, having shot a 62 playing as an amateur in the inaugural Scottish Challenge in 2006, found himself three down after seven to India’s Shiv Kapur.
As was the case when the pair met in a play-off for the South African Open six years ago, however, the Aberdonian came out on top and was delighted he birdied the last two holes in doing so. “It’s great to finish with two clutch birdies,” said Ramsay of rolling in a six-footer at the 17th then one from 20 feet at the last.
He now faces Italian Edoardo Molinari, who set up his 5&4 win over Swede Magnus Carlsson by holing an approach from 96 yards at the first. “I can get as far as I let myself get,” replied Ramsay to being asked if he felt he could go all the way this week, as he did in the same format when winning the US Amateur Championship at Hazeltine nine years ago. “If I get in the way of myself I won’t reach my potential. I know what that is. I’ve won three European Tour titles, so the goal is to chase a fourth. And there’s probably not a better place to do it.”
Marc Warren, the No 2 seed, was given a wake-up call in his match when Englishman Richard Bland rolled in a 25-foot eagle putt at the first. The Scot, however, isn’t the type to get flustered and he eventually prevailed in a match that had a better-ball score of 11-under-par.
One up playing the last, Warren had to play out backwards from a bunker on the right of the fairway but managed to salvage a par to avoid going into extra-time. “Richard made me fight for it at the end. but I was very solid and didn’t give him anything, which was pleasing,” said Warren, who has Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti awaiting him on the first tee today.