Ewen Ferguson eyes star pairing as Connor Syme savours his day with Jon Rahm
“It is exciting,” said Ferguson of the season-ending $10.5 million being spearheaded by Masters champion Rahm, world No 2 Rory McIlroy and FedEx Cup winner Viktor Hovland on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates,
“I would love to play with a Rory or someone like that. I played with Rahm last year here and would love to play with him again. Hovland, too, to see where I’m at. It brings a buzz to it and I feel my game is there to handle a pairing like that.”
Syme certainly enjoyed having Rahm, the defending champion, for company for around four hours, especially as he got the chance to see the Spaniard at his best as he stormed up the leaderboard on the back of a six-under-par 66.
“That’s the biggest name I’ve played with in a competition, for sure,” said Syme, who was happy enough with his own effort - a 71 - on a day when his iron play into the greens wasn’t as sharp as he’d have liked. “I played a practice round for the Dunhill Links with Rory, but to get that draw today in a competition was amazing. Yeah, it was awesome. So cool to be able to learn from someone like that.
“Every part of his game is so amazing. He just plays so fearless. That’s what we all try and do, but watching him do it from the get go today was impressive. I don’t think there was any shot he shied away from. Even at 18 after hitting it into the desert, he hit it to around four feet for an eagle.”
Ferguson’s 67, which featured six birdies, lifted him into the top 20 on five-under while Syme sits on level-par, one ahead of Grant Forrest (72). “That was probably my best ball-striking round of the year,” declared Dubai-based Ferguson. “I hit it so well and the first four holes I was inside ten foot every single time and missed all four putts. I was like ‘here we go’. But I then hit it to three feet at the par-5 14th and holed that for a birdie.
“I’ve been hitting it well now for quite a while. My last four or five weeks have been really good. Also playing here and knowing the course better helps. Me and Goughy (coach Jamie Gough) have been doing some good stuff on the range, trying to pick up a little bit of distance as well, and it’s getting there.”
Syme, who tied for 12th in this event last year, is hoping for another big weekend. “Yeah, a little bit scrappy at the start today, probably more than I would have liked,” he admitted. “But it’s all new experiences playing with guys like Jon. Probably more nervous than I would have been if I was playing with someone else just because of what he’s done in the game, but it was a really cool experience and I really enjoyed it.”
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.