Scott Jamieson has made his first transatlantic trip to play in a European Tour event feeling optimistic that he can build on a strong end to last season to get into the Ryder Cup reckoning this year.
Since bringing down the curtain on the 2017 campaign, the Glaswegian has moved to Florida with his wife Natalie, an American, and their two young children and has already benefitted from being able to play and practice in better weather than he’s been used to at this time of the year.
Helped by finishing second behind Branden Grace in the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa, Jamieson is sitting eighth on the European points list and 14th on world list for the Ryder Cup in Paris in the autumn and is hoping to improve on both those positions by making a strong start to his new season.
He’s among seven Scots teeing up in this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and is also playing in both the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and Maybank Championship in Malaysia on this trip across the Atlantic.
“Off the back end of last year, I know that people have been talking about me being up there in the Ryder Cup points standings,” said Jamieson, who played in the winning European team in the 2011 Seve Trophy.
“But, if truth be told, I’ve not thought about it myself and I actually said to my coach, Andrew Nicholson, the other day, ‘you need to keep reminding me that if I can get a win between now and the summer, I’m going to be right in the mix’.
“It’s the best opportunity I’ve ever had to play in a Ryder Cup. I’m a long way ahead of some people at the moment. There’s an awful long way to go, obviously, but it’s something I can definitely make a push for.
“It’s tough to do from outside the top 50 in the world (Jamieson is 143rd in the global rankings) and the first few weeks of my season might determine if I can do it.”
The 34-year-old’s confidence has certainly been boosted by finishing 26th in last season’s Race to Dubai, having just managed to hang on to his European Tour card the previous two years.
Fellow Scot Hugh Marr has been responsible for his short game improving immensely while Jamieson is also reaping benefits from working with other aspects of his swing with Andrew Nicholson, who is based at the David Leabetter Golf Academy at The Wynyard in County Durham.
“What I’ve been working on with Andrew is a lead on from the stuff I did with David Leadbetter after going to see him,” said the 2013 Nelson Mandela Championship winner. “He’s really good and I think I’m in a much better place technically than I was a couple of years ago.
“He’s part of the David Leadbetter company. A lot of it is similar but he has some of his own ideas and I think he understands how my body works. Going on last year’s stats, the last few weeks of the year showed my proximity to the hole with irons was really good.
“The stuff with Andrew was giving me more opportunities to make birdies and less opportunity to make bogeys.
“My short game also was really good last year. I’ve been working on that with Hugh for almost two years now and that’s made a difference. If I’m out of position, I’m saving par a lot more.”
Jamieson, who went to Augusta State before turning professional, may have moved more than 4,000 miles from home but he found it amusing to have been followed to Orlando last week by his beloved Rangers for the Florida Cup.
Wife Natalie posted a photograph of the pair attending the first of the Ibrox club’s games against Atletico Mineiro, but Jamieson missed out on the next match against another Brazilian side, Corinithians, as he was starting his journey halfway across the world that day.
“It was quite odd watching them there,” he admitted, smiling. “It was amazing the people I bumped into. It was good fun, though not much of a game. The next one looked better, though that was on the day I left.”
Is he missing anything from home yet? “It’s too early for that,” he said.
“But I’ ll need a roll and sausage at some point, so I’ll need to source somewhere I can get square sausage.”