He’s the “wee man” who has been by far the biggest influence on Richie Ramsay’s career. Ian Rae has coached the Aberdonian since his amateur days and continues to be the “key cog” in one of the longest partnerships in Scottish golf and perhaps even Scottish sport.
”I have been lucky with the team around me, especially the wee man,” said Ramsay, who has made it to the penultimate event of the European Tour season, the Nedbank Golf Challenge starting today at Sun City in South Africa, along with two of his compatriots, Bob MacIntyre and Scott Jamieson, of Rae, pictured right. “Being on the tour for so long (this is his 11th straight season) is one of the things I’m most proud of and, without him, I wouldn’t have done that.”
Under Rae’s guidance, Ramsay has won three times on the circuit, amassed earnings of close to £7 million and, last season apart when he took it right to the wire in the final regular event, has had his card secured nice and early.
“We have always tried to get a little bit better but not to the point where I can’t just go out and play golf,” added the 36-year-old, who does a lot of his work with Rae, who was Scottish national coach when they linked up and remains in that post, at The Renaissance Club in East Lothian. “Ian has always been good at working with the little margins of improvement. He’s been the key cog to make things work and tick over. He’s there for guidance not just technical advice; what’s the best way to practice, how to deal with family, that kind of stuff.”
Ramsay’s best finish in the Race to Dubai was 26th in 2012 while he ended up 31st two seasons ago. Helped by a strong finish to the regular campaign, he’s currently 58th in the 2019 standings and needs to get into the top 50 come Sunday night to secure a spot in next week’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
“Overall, I think it’s been a pretty good season,” said the Edinburgh-based player. “It’s 12 years on tour if you include Challenge Tour. I was thinking about it. You look at Bob MacIntyre and see when he was born and I was at school. You see Stevie (Gallacher) or folk like that who have played 16 to 20 years, over 500 events, and maybe just had to go Q-School once. That’s a huge accomplishment. Everybody can be good for a little period of time, but it’s not easy to be good over a sustained period.”
Jamieson, who has secured his seat at the top table in European golf for a tenth successive season, is hoping a trip to South Africa can bring out the best in him once again, having produced some of his biggest performances in the Rainbow Nation.
The 35-year-old won the Nelson Mandela Championship in 2012, finished runner-up to Branden Grace in the Nedbank event two years ago and delivered his best effort this season when tying for third in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.
“I have very good memories going back to South Africa, so hopefully I repeat that form this week,” he said. “I have only played Sun City once, finishing second, so I will tee up drawing on those memories. It was a great result for me in 2017 that helped secure a career-best Race to Dubai season for me of 26th position.”
Florida-based Jamieson, who is 65th in the standings this year, added: “I don’t know what I will need to do to get into Dubai but it would be good to add a second extra end-of-season event after this one.”
MacIntyre, the only Scot currently guaranteed to be in next week’s field at Jumeirah Golf Estates, will literally have American Kurt Kitayama in his sights in the opening round as they battle it out for the Rookie of the Year Award. Organisers have put them in the same group, with Kitayama, a two-time winner this season, having jumped two spots above the Scot in the rankings after getting into the six-man play-off in the Turkish Airlines Open on Sunday.
Tyrrell Hatton, the winner of that shootout under the floodlights in Belek, is not playing this week, but compatriot Lee Westwood is defending his title in a field that also includes Race to Dubai leader Bernd Wiesberger, world No 18 Tommy Fleetwood and 2016 Open champion Henrik Stenson.