Richie Ramsay reckons he is finally winning the mental battle he has been fighting over time spent away from his family as a globetrotter on the European Tour, but, even so, his masterplan is to either stop playing altogether at 40 or take some time out.
The 35-year-old Aberdonian, a three-time winner on the circuit who has amassed career earnings of £6 million, is in good fettle heading into the Betfred British Masters at Hillside in Southport, having just come off his best finish of the 2019 campaign, a share of 14th place in the Volvo China Open last weekend.
He also has some good memories from playing golf in this part of the world, having earned a Walker Cup berth in 2005 through his performance in the European Team Championship at this venue, as well as producing his best effort in the Open Championship next door at Royal Birkdale when finishing joint 22nd behind Jordan Spieth in 2017.
However, as he prepared to join nine other Scots in an event being hosted by Tommy Fleetwood, Ramsay made a frank admission about his future in the sport, which was once all-consuming for the Edinburgh-based player but not since his daughter, Olivia, was born just over three years ago.
“It might sound funny, but I am trying to enjoy my golf a little bit more as I got torn a little bit between the travelling and not being home spending time with the family,” said Ramsay. “In my own mind, that was a bit of battle that I was fighting towards the end of last year.
“I read a lot of things about people and one was, ‘if you had a month to live, what would you do?’ Well, I wouldn’t be out here. I’d be at home every day spending time with (wife) Angela and Olivia as that is what is important for me.
“It goes a little bit against my value system but, at the same time, my brother and Angela were very good as they reminded me that if I do this job well, I get to spend multiple weeks with them as I try to give Olivia as many opportunities as I can as she gets older.
“That was an inward battle that I had and I am now a little bit more peace with it. But I have a goal, which, with everybody on board, is to pretty much play until I am 40. If I feel I am in place where I don’t want to continue and I’m not motivated because I need to be 100 per cent in on it, I might decide to do something else or take a year out. How good would that be to spend a whole year with my daughter?”
Ramsay, who left it until the last regular event of the 2018 season before securing his card for an 11th year in a row, closed with a 66 – his best score of the current campaign in China – and is hoping to build on that in this week’s £3m event on the Lancashire coast.
“I felt a result like I had in China was coming,” he added. “I played well in Morocco without doing too much and I now have Guy Tilston on the bag who is doing a good job keeping it simple as I am good when that’s the case.
“I am fortunate to be doing something that I love to do and competing against some of the best players in the world. If I walked away tomorrow, that’s the thing I would really miss - the competition. You want to test yourself and I just need to go out there and play a little bit better than I have been.
“I have some nice memories from this part of the world. This is where I got picked for the Walker Cup and the 2017 Open at Birkdale was one of my favourite weeks of golf ever. It was an amazing experience and I’d love to do something like that again.”
This week’s event marks the European Tour’s return to Hillside after a 37-year absence, Tony Jacklin having defeated Bernhard Langer in a play-off to win the PGA Championship on that last visit to a course impressing the current generation.