Drysdale had Vicky at his side as he produced what, despite having finished runner-up a couple of times, was undoubtedly the best performance of his career to claim a share of fourth spot in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at the weekend and, in the process, secure a spot in next week’s 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.
Before that welcome addition to the schedule – it will only be the 42-year-old’s second appearance in the game’s oldest major – “Team Drysdale” will be back in action at this week’s £5.5 million Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Dundonald Links, where they paid an early visit yesterday after a ferry trip back across the Irish Sea.
“Vicky caddied for me a couple of times a year or so back before starting to do it on a regular basis this season,” said Drysdale, who celebrated signing off with seven straight birdies to close with a course-record 63 at Portstewart by creating one of the cutest images from a golf course in recent years as the pair shared a huge kiss on the 18th green.
“One of the best things about having Vicky on the bag is that she is so positive. She is always talking to me and encouraging me, but also kicks me up the backside when I need it. She is also such a determined character and carries that big golf big without any problems, even though I offered her a smaller one.
“She lets me get on with what I do on the golf course and, with her on the bag, I feel I am more focused at the moment and seeing the shots better. We’ve not had any issues over yardages or anything else. We also find it easy to do stuff away from the course before getting up and at it again the next day.”
Drysdale, who lives near Cockburnspath in Berwickshire and is attached to Eyemouth, has spent a lot of his career battling to hang on to a European Tour card, enjoying his best season when finishing 48th in the Race to Dubai in 2009. He is up to 42nd on that list after picking up a career-best cheque for around £211,000 in Ireland and now Drysdale, having had a whiff of victory in his nostrils until Spaniard Jon Rahm romped to victory on Sunday, is looking to really kick on.
“It is just experience, really,” he said in reply to being asked what he felt was the main difference in him as a player now to when he was a perennial parishioner at the Qualifying School earlier in his career. “I am far more comfortable on the European Tour. I’m more established. Maybe I felt I was out of place a bit when I first started out.
“I am also better player from tee to green than I was back in ’09 (when he made his first Open Championship appearance at Turnberry). I’ve been working with Jamie Gough (brother of former Scotland defender Richard) for the best part of six years now and I’m a better driver of the ball and a better iron player thanks to him.
“I also work hard on my short game and the green I now have at home has certainly paid dividends. I got it installed last May and it’s been brilliant. I can go out in the morning and hit a few putts and chips. It’s not as though I am on it for hours on end, but the odd half hour here and there has helped improve my chipping no end. It has definitely paid for itself.
“Overall this season, I’ve produced some steady performances, especially in South Africa as always at the start of the year, and the big difference at the weekend was rolling in some putts at the end. I am using what some people call the Matt Kuchar-mechanism with my putting. You could call it anchoring in some sort of way but it is legal at the moment. I’ve been doing that since the Paul Lawrie Match Play up at Murcar Links two years ago and it has helped. Technical-wise, it is fantastic.”
It will be tough to achieve the feat this week in the European Tour’s strongest field of the season, but Drysdale admits his career, for all that it has displayed a consistency that some of his peers perhaps lack, will be somewhat unfulfilled if he hasn’t been able to add a victory on the main circuit to a brace of Challenge Tour triumphs.
“I think I have played around 430 events out here now, which is quite a lot,” he said. “The first year was 2002 and I’ve always had some sort of status, even if it meant playing 15 events. You have to play really well to win out here. You have to string four good scores together. Look at the guys who are winning. Jon Rahm, for example, in Ireland. He won with 24 under par.
“You have to do something extra special to win. I’ve had a couple of second places, a couple of near misses, but I will be bitterly disappointed if I finish my career without a win. I will definitely take a lot of confidence out of the Irish Open, especially the way I finished and in the conditions.”