Richie Ramsay steps up Dubai bid as fellow Scots live out their dream
Ewen Ferguson and Connor Syme came through the amateur ranks at the same time and always talked about how they wanted to play together at the highest level in the professional ranks. The two close friends and Modest! Golf management stablemates have achieved that dream on the DP World Tour, where they’d already played in the same group but not in a limited-field event.
Thrilled about the opportunity at an iconic venue, Ferguson and Syme carded matching two-under-par 70s on the demanding Gary Player Country Club course at Sun City in South Africa to sit handily-placed in the penultimate tournament of the season.
“We used to always say we wanted to play together on tour and now we are here, you want to strive for better,” said Ferguson after signing for five birdies, having held a share of the early lead after covering his front nine in 33, three under. “It’s good fun,” added the two-time tour winner of the two friends living out their dreams. “Go out for another Nandos tonight, nothing changes (laughing).”
According to Syme, they had something a little more exciting planned before turning their attention to Friday’s second circuit. “I’m dragging him out on the safari tonight as he normally likes to sit in his wee bed and watch Nat Geo,” he pointed out, raising a chuckle from the two of them as they conducted a post-round interview together.
Ferguson (42nd) and Syme (44th) both came into the $6 million event inside the provisional top-50 Race to Dubai Rankings cut-off for next week’s DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. Sitting 54th, though, Ramsay needs a big week and he’s off to a promising start after signing for a four-under 68 to sit just two shots off the lead, which American Max Homa, who birdied three of the last five holes in brilliant a bogey-free effort, shares with Dane Nicolai Hojgaard, Englishman Dan Bradbury and Swede Vincent Norrman.
Normally steady rather than spectacular, Ramsay’s round was a roller-coaster ride on this occasion as the four-time tour winner mixed seven birdies with three bogeys to sit three ahead of hat-trick seeking Tommy Fleetwood as he closed with a 6.
Calum Hill, who started out sitting 51st in the Race to Dubai standings, recovered from dropping three shots in the first four holes to salvage a par-72 while Grant Forrest shot 73, but it was a struggle from the start for Bob MacIntyre as he had to settle for a 78, which left him sitting joint-63rd in the 66-player field.
The Oban man would be disappointed about that but, according to his compatriots, the course is one of the toughest they face all year. “I really love playing here as it’s a brilliant course, but you have to focus so hard on every shot,” said Ferguson. “You have to hit a perfect shot every time and miss it in the right places.”
Concurring, Syme added: “Because there’s trouble on both sides, you need to be really switched on on every hole. You can’t fake your way around the course.”
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