Richie Ramsay running 'own race' again and reaps reward in Dubai
Having made the cut in his first two events of 2022, the change in his thought process is already paying dividends for the Aberdonian.
Ramsay, who carded three sub-par rounds as he tied for 25th in last week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, added another one as he signed for a 69 on the second day of the Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic.
Having opened with a 74, he’s sitting 10 shots off the lead, held by South African Justin Harding, at the halfway stage at Emirates Golf Club, but it’s been an encouraging start to season No 14 on the renamed DP World Tour for Ramsay.
“The biggest thing I need to keep realising, and I was thinking about this in the gym the other morning, is that last year I fell into the trap of comparing myself to other guys in terms of how they swing and what speed they swing at,” Ramsay told The Scotsman.
“That was a pitfall, not just for me but maybe for other guys as well. Social media can be great, but it can be a devil at the same time. I’ve got to realise that I have to run my own race. That I’m in competition with myself and not anyone else.
“Just having that plan is less stressful than worrying about what other people are doing because you do start questioning yourself. You may not think it, but it is still seeping into your head, so I am stopping any comparisons with other people.”
On a day when Scott Jamieson retained his position as top Scot - he sits joint-17th on four-under, three ahead of his compatriot - Ramsay signed for six birdies, including a burst of three on the spin on his front nine.
“It was really good to get the swing changes I made with Ian Rae (his coach) about two months ago into competition play over four rounds in Abu Dhabi,” added the three-time tour winner.
“I think last week at Yas Links, which definitely suited me more than Abu Dhabi Golf Club, was one that put you in more uncomfortable positions and sometimes you have to realise that will make you a better player.
“This week is completely different. Last week I hit a lot of drilled shots into greens whereas this week it’s absolutely all through the air on a course where the fairways are quite narrow and the rough is juicy.
“The greens are really firm, so it doesn’t take a genius to work out who is going to prosper here and I’d expect Rory McIlroy to do very well this week.”
Edinburgh-based Ramsay, who tied for sixth in this event four years ago after a closing 64, is enjoying the fact that the greens on the Majlis Course have been restored to their old size after being redone for this year’s event.
“Bigger greens allow for more pin positions, so it makes it more fun,” he said. “I think the holes play differently. At hole 11, for example, there’s a back flag that has been reinstated. There’s just more variety and moving forward I expect the surfaces to improve year on year.”
Also enjoying the test, Jamieson carded four birdies for the second day running as he signed for his fifth sub-par score in six rounds at the start of his 12th campaign.
“I wasn’t as good tee-to-green today and kind of battled away,” said the Florida-based player. “I’m under par again and not unhappy as the conditions were really tricky.”
On being guaranteed another pay-day in a Rolex Series event, having picked up just under £115,000 for his top-10 finish in Abu Dhabi, he added: “It’s great to have made the cut again as these are big events. You want to be playing all four days and I’ve ticked that box, which is nice.”
Also continuing to flying the Saltire over the weekend are David Law, Grant Forrest and David Drysdale, the trio all having made the cut with a shot to spare on level-par.
After a birdie-birdie finish, Connor Syme agonisingly fell one short, while there were also early exits for former winners Colin Montgomerie and Stephen Gallacher, as well as Marc Warren and Bob MacIntyre.
Twelve months after finishing third behind Paul Casey, MacIntyre was bitterly disappointed after rounds of 74-75 and spent a long time mulling over things with his caddie, coach and manager at the back of the practice area afterwards.
Harding, a two-time winner on the circuit, leads by two shots after backing up an opening 65 with an equally-impressive 68, which contained an eagle and four birdies.
“I've played this golf course well over the years,” said the 35-year-old, having tied for seventh behind Bryson DeChambeau in 2019.“I also played quite nicely last week. Barring a bad finish, it would have been a top 10, so the game seems to be close. Just a matter if I can control the putter and make some putts.”
Helped by a seven-birdie salvo, including four in a row from the second, Rolex Series specialist Tyrrell Hatton leads the chase, with Harding’s compatriot, Erik Van Rooyen, handily-placed on eight-under.
Though he was aghast to miss a short putt early on, McIlroy is lurking ominously on seven-under after a bogey-free 66, with defending champion Paul Casey, Lee Westwood and Tommy Fleetwood all in a group on six-under.
"I'm six rounds into the season and feel like I've learned a bit and feel a bit more comfortable with everything,” said two-time champion McIlroy after signing for an eagle and four birdies.
Another former winner, Sergio Garcia, slipped back after a 74, which left him sitting in a tie for 32nd alongside Open champion and world No 2 Collin Morikawa (73).
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