Following a delay of two hours and 45 minutes due to morning mist, overnight leader Bryson DeChambeau, along with the event’s star duo, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy, were unable to complete their rounds and faced an early return to Abu Dhabi Golf Club today to reach the halfway stage.
The clubhouse target had been set by Englishman Andy Sullivan as he opened with a brace of 67s to sit on ten-under-par, three better than anyone else among those to have completed 36 holes. In the grand scheme of things, Sullivan stood one ahead of DeChambeau after the American bogeyed the par-5 18th, his ninth, just before play was halted due to the fading desert light.
With five holes to play, world No 1 Spieth and third-ranked McIlroy were on three-under and five-under respectively, the latter sitting alongside Ramsay, who opened with a 73 but had leapt nearly 70 places up the leaderboard. That was made possible by his six-under-par 66 being the day’s best score among those who were able to finish.
It contained nine birdies, including four in a row as he showed admirable mental strength to bounce back from a double-bogey at the ninth, the 22 putts he required making up for the fact the 32-year-old only hit eight fairways.
“I played really well in parts and quite poorly in parts, but putted beautifully at times today,” said Ramsay, who is making his first outing since finishing 17th behind McIlroy in the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in November. “The strange thing for me is that I didn’t hit as many fairways as I normally do so I need to try and get my driving dialled in. If it had been today, it could have been a really low one.
“Yesterday I played okay and ground out a one-over score. Today I played well in parts and shot six-under. Last season the first round would have been three-over and this would have been two-under, so I’m getting a little bit more out of my game.”
That being the case, the future looks bright for the three-time European Tour winner. It is certainly orange – at least every Friday from now on. “I’ve just got a new sponsor in Carbon Financial Partners and on Fridays I’ve decided to wear their colours – orange, black and white,” revealed Ramsay.
“This was the first day with that colour scheme so I might have to get everything washed and wear them again tomorrow as it’s obviously working.
“It was my idea as they are very brand-orientated. I did marketing for four years at Stirling University, so I should be able to come up with some good ideas. It wasn’t just partying all the time!”
Once the three-event Desert Swing finishes – the circuit moves to Qatar next week then on to Dubai – Ramsay will be putting the clubs away for a while as his wife, Angela, is due to give birth next month. He doesn’t want to be in far-flung upcoming venues such as South Africa, India, Malaysia and Australia when she goes into labour, especially as it is the couple’s first child. “I’m excited about becoming a father and, though I am not sure if it will change me as a golfer, one thing for certain is that I will have to change as a person,” he said smiling.
“I am going to have to be more focussed on what I am doing and also better focussed but then it’s going to be neat going home to be with the family. I’m letting Angela roll with the colour co-ordination of the baby’s room as we know it’s going to be a girl.”
Given that orange now appears to be his new lucky colour, Mrs Ramsay might have a fight on her hands for it to be the traditional pink.