Ramsay triumphs at SA Open

Three years after becoming the first Scot to win the US Amateur in 108 years, Richie Ramsay has his first European Tour title.

Three years after becoming the first Scot to win the US Amateur in 108 years, Richie Ramsay now has his first European Tour title.
The 25-year-old from Aberdeen won the South African Open at Pearl Valley on Sunday, coming from five behind with a best-of-the-day 65 and then beating Indian Shiv Kapur with a birdie on the first play-off hole.
“There’s no greater feeling than winning and I’m just a flood of emotions – I’m holding back the tears,” said Ramsay after becoming only the seventh foreigner to win a century-old title that in most of its previous 99 editions, has been dominated by native South Africans of the calibre of Gary Player and Ernie Els.
Sunday’s play-off antagonists tied on the 13-under-par mark of 275 but the former Walker Cup player grabbed the first prize of £141,745 – and a Tour exemption that runs until the end of 2011 – when he was on the green in two at the 601-yard 18th and was able to two-putt for birdie to win the play-off.
“Things just went for me,” he added. “But I am a lot more positive now – I go out believing and thinking I can win.”
Ramsay did not drop a shot all day, going to the turn in 33 and then grabbing birdies on the 10th, 12th, 15th, 17th and 18th
On the 17th, where he finally caught up with Kapur, he holed a 14-footer following a superb approach from the rough over water and he could well have wrapped up the title with a 25-foot eagle putt at the last.
Not too much later, Kapur also had his chance at the 18th where he only needed to hole a 12-foot putt for his first Tour title, but he too missed.
Denmark’s Anders Hansen, Swede Fredrik Andersson Hed and Italian Edoardo Molinari all could have joined the play-off with a closing eagle but failed.
Hansen’s birdie left him third, while the other two parred to be joint fourth – and that was good enough for Molinari to climb into the world’s top 50 just in time to join his brother Francesco in qualifying for the Masters at Augusta National in April.
Overnight leader Pablo Martin, winner of last week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship, kept his smile but lost his touch to tumble down the leaderboard to sixth with a 73.
Ramsay went into the event ranked 240th in the world and the victory will take him just inside the top 120.
That makes him the second highest-ranked Scot behind US Tour-based Martin Laird. Scotland’s last winner on the European circuit was Alastair Forsyth in Portugal 19 months ago.
It was not until he came fourth at the Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews in October that Ramsay made sure of keeping his card.
He led the Wales Open earlier in the year but found himself in a rules controversy there and the fact that he escaped punishment upset a number of other players.
Martin’s trouble?
It was clearly a cold putter.
The 23-year-old Spanish overnight leader simply ran out of focus after his exhausting, roller-coaster of a third round when his putter saved him time and again. On Sunday he couldn’t find the hole and seemed to lose his spark after a bogey at the third
In the end he shot a one-over 73 and had to be satisfied with a share of sixth with hard-charging South African Darren Fichardt, whose bogey six on 18 finally put him out of the race.
Fichardt, however, was the leading South African ahead of James Kingston, who, after looking like a final day contender, faded on the closing stretch and was only able to shoot par for a share of eighth place with fellow South Africans Chris Swanepoel and Michiel Bothma and the Swedish pair of Michael Jonzon and Soren Hansen.
Dylan Frittelli won the Freddie Tait Cup as the leading amateur in this year’s tournament, carding rounds of 69, 74, 72 and 73 to tie for 47th on even-par 289.
But Ramsay had the final say.
“I talk about the power of positive thinking,” he said. “I didn’t think about a low round. The go pins, I went for them. I just picked a shot and went for it. It was a day for fearless golf.”