Launched exactly a year ago amid great fanfare in Dubai, the Rolex Series events have proved very profitable indeed for Scottish golfers this season. In fact, they’re the main reason for a tartan trio comprising of Scott Jamieson, Richie Ramsay and David Drysdale giving themselves one more chance to be laughing all the way to the bank.
This week’s DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai is the eighth and final event in the inaugural Rolex Series, which Keith Pelley, the European Tour’s chief executive, devised to make the circuit a “viable alternative” to the PGA Tour.
It’s a pity for Pelley and, of course, Rolex that two of the European Tour’s leading lights, Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson, are absentees from the season-ending event, but, with $8 million up for grabs, it should be easy to see why Jamieson, Ramsay and Drysdale are delighted to be in a 60-man field.
A week ago when he was sitting 75th in the Race to Dubai, Jamieson was relieved to have scraped into the penultimate event of the season, but boy did he show in the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa how one really good week in this game can make a huge difference.
Yes, of course, he should be a tad disappointed about not winning at Sun City after being there or thereabouts from the opening day. But, at the same time, he is also right to feel proud of his performance and, let’s be honest here, the man who beat him in the end, Branden Grace, is surely a major winner in the making.
It wasn’t mentioned in the TV commentary over the weekend, but, earlier in the season, Jamieson was also in the mix heading into the final round of the Tshwane Open. He shared the lead on that occasion but blew up on the last day, slipping to joint-22nd at the finish after a bitterly disappointing 78.
If that was in the back of his mind on Sunday, it certainly didn’t show because the 33-year-old played beautifully and was only denied by a brilliant effort from Grace, who was determined to win “Africa’s major” for a first time and did so, of course, in the same year he earned a place in the record books by becoming the first player to card 62 in a major.
You wouldn’t know from Jamieson’s body language out on the course if he’s on his way to a 62 or an 82. He really is one of the game’s most laid-back characters and I’m certainly not the only one to wish sometimes that he was exactly the opposite because, with a swing like his, the sky could be the limit if he also had some real fire in his belly.
People are who they are, though, and Jamieson certainly can’t be criticised for being a lovely lad because, as much as we want to see our players winning as much as possible, it is also important that we have ambassadors doing us proud on the big stages around the world – and he certainly ticks that box.
Having jumped up to 23rd in the Race to Dubai – he also leapt 136 spots to 141st in the world rankings – on the back of that splendid effort in South Africa, Jamieson is now on course for his best season on the European Tour and how ironic is that?
He’s about to move to Florida with his family and will be commuting across the Atlantic next season. That’s got to be a really difficult thing to do, especially on a regular basis. But, on the other hand, he’s going to be practising in better weather most of the time, so the timing may actually be perfect because you’ve got to think the best times still lie ahead for a man whose sole European Tour triumph to date came in the weather-shortened Nelson Mandela Championship in Durban in 2013.
Not that winning is easy at the top level, of course. Drysdale is still knocking at the door in his 15th full season on the main circuit, yet he deserves credit for taking this campaign the full distance for the first time in six years.
Ramsay, too, and you really do get the feeling the Aberdonian is on the verge of something really special. He’s been close to seeing everything clicking all season and this last Rolex Series event – he finished second behind Jon Rahm in the Irish Open, which also saw Drysdale enjoy a huge pay-day in joint-fourth – would certainly be a spectacular stage for that to happen.