Fans help Richie Ramsay rise to 'big' occasion in Betfred British Masters at The Belfry

Richie Ramsay rose to the occasion playing in front of normal-sized crowds again on UK soil to sit just one shot off the lead after the opening round of the £1.85 million Betfred British Masters at The Belfry.

In an event being hosted by Danny Willett for the second year running at the four-time Ryder Cup venue, the 38-year-old carded a five-under-par 67 late in the day to sit joint-third as the pace was set by Dane Thorbjorn Olesen and Kiwi Ryan Fox.

For the past two years, the majority of DP World Tour events had either been staged behind closed doors or with a limited attendance due to Covid restrictions, but it’s back to normal this week and the first day’s play on the Sutton Coldfield course was witnessed by good-sized crowds.

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“I’ve worked on my mindset the last few days and I think it helped today that it felt like a proper tournament,” said Ramsay after signing for six birdies. “It’s a big golf course and a good strength of field and it felt as though I needed to do something today and turn it on, so it was really pleasing to do that.

“My goal was to match my mindset and today I checked myself a couple of times and that was the difference.”

Ramsay has played well in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in the past, while he’s also been in the mix on a couple of occasions on home soil in both the Scottish Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

“I think I play my best golf when we play our biggest tournaments and that isn’t a coincidence,” he added. “The other thing for me is playing on good golf courses. That makes quite a big difference to me.”

Even though he was out in one of the later groups along with England’s David Horsey and Swede Alexander Bjork, a number of spectators were still there as Ramsay birdied the 16th and 17th before making a good par save from 10 feet at the last.

Richie Ramsay plays his second shot on the 11th hole during the first round of the Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willett at The Belfry. Picture: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images.

“You enjoy it more,” admitted the Edinburgh-based Aberdonian of having crowds back. “It’s more of an atmosphere and you want to play well when there’s a decent turn out. It’s also a nice place and, fortunately, the weather was good for us today.

“The fact you enjoy it makes your job a lot easier. When you enjoy something, it means you have a passion for it and want to do well. If I was honest, I feel I had lost that a little bit.”

The three-time tour winner missed the cut in last week’s Catalunya Championship as he returned after a lay-off due to exceptional inflammation in his shoulder.

“It was diagnosed as bursitis and I basically couldn’t move my arm properly,” reported Ramsay. “I took off four, five weeks off, got some rehab, some physio.

“Tim Swan (an expert in sport medicine support) saw me last week and now I can get my hand behind my back again. My whole back just wanted to seize up because it was compensating for the shoulder.”

David Law, with a 73, was next best among a 12-strong Scottish contingent, with Bob MacIntyre, Connor Syme, Craig Howie and Greig Hutcheon all cardings 74s.

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