Reigning U.S. Amateur Champion
Ramsay Taking Analytical Approach To 2007 Season
March 21, 2007
comes to learning quite naturally. His late grandfather was a
headmaster at a primary school in , and his father is on the
faculty at a nearby university.
|Richard Ramsay converses with a Rules
official during the U.S. Amateur quarterfinals in which his
caddie touched his line of putt. (USGA Photo Archives)|
So it comes as no surprise that Ramsay's own examination
of Augusta National Golf Club, the venue for Ramsay's first
major appearance as reigning U.S. Amateur champion, has been both
extensive, if not exhaustive.
In preparation for the Masters in two weeks, the 23-year-old
Ramsay has played between eight and 10 times since January. He
also has picked the minds of leading amateurs who have played in
the Masters dating back to , who in 1978 became the first British
amateur to make a Masters cut.
"He's definitely not going to leave anything to
chance if he can prepare for it mentally or physically,"
said his father, Iain, who lectures at . " said it took him
10 years to figure out how to play . Richie is trying to figure
it out in 10 rounds."
When Ramsay arrived at Hazeltine National Golf Club in , for
the U.S. Amateur in August, his name stood out. He had won the
2004 Scottish Open Stroke Play and the 2005 Irish Amateur Stroke
Play, and had been a member of the 2005 and Ireland Walker Cup
team that was narrowly defeated by the , 12Â½-11Â½ at Chicago
Still, Ramsay knew there were skeptics who did not believe he
had the wherewithal to win or the mental mettle to endure the
seven-day grind of stroke and match play on foreign soil. After
all, not since Findlay Douglas in 1898 had a Scot won the U.S.
"But within myself I knew I was really strong mentally
and I think I proved the point," he said. "It showed to
me that I should always have that belief because I'm more
than capable of competing with the best around.
"I know some people were shocked I won it, but it shows
me the belief and confidence I had; there was substance to that
because I went out and beat the best players around."
Ramsay's 4-and-2 dispatching of American John Kelly in the
36-hole championship final was not only a display of supreme
hubris, but of skilled precision. Ramsay hit 30 of 34 greens in
regulation on that Sunday, including 15 of 16 in the afternoon
In previous rounds, he showed nerves every bit as sturdy as
shipping rope. In the quarterfinals, Ramsay's 17-year-old
caddie touched his line of putt on the 17th green. Ramsay
incurred a loss-of-hole penalty that squared the match against
American junior stalwart Rickie Fowler, but he eventually won on
the 21st hole. The next day, leading 2 up through 15 holes
against Wake Forest All-American Webb Simpson, Ramsay grounded
his club in a hazard at the 16th hole, incurring another
loss-of-hole penalty. But he still managed a 1-up victory.
In both instances, Ramsay pushed on unfazed.
"When it comes down to the pressure situations, I think I
feed off a couple of things," he said. "Not necessarily
from golf, but life in general. As you grow up, you encounter
situations. They may not be the best situations, but you have got
to just stand up and deal with it. I was still in a situation
where I knew I could go out there and win. It was a mistake and
it kind of set me back, but it wasn't like that I actually
lost the match. I was still in there with more than a chance to
remembers when his son was not always as resilient. Early in
Richie's playing days, he grew increasingly frustrated by his
inability to beat his brother Robin, four years his elder. Then
there was a Scottish boys' competition at Ramsay's home
club, Royal Aberdeen Golf Club. He entered as the No. 1 seed and
sailed into the semifinals, where he stood on the 18th tee
trailing by a hole.
Ramsay's tee shot took an awkward sideways bounce into the
water - match over. Ramsay took off his hat and shook his
"He didn't let the disappointment get to him,"
said . "I can imagine that Richie was laying in his bedroom
days later thinking about it. That's when the disappointment
would have kicked in. He learned to handle himself well in times
These are happier times, though.
Winning the U.S. Amateur did not completely sink in until
returning home and being feted by members at Royal Aberdeen Golf
Club, the world's sixth oldest golf club, where Ramsay often
caddied to make extra money. Perks soon came his way in the form
of an honorary membership to the club - only the fourth in the
club's history and the first given for playing ability - and
his own personal locker, over which a nameplate reads " ,
U.S. Amateur champion, 2006."
Ramsay has also done one sitting for a portrait featuring him
and the Havemeyer Trophy, which sits in the club's trophy
cabinet. His will be the only champion's portrait hung in the
A sports marketing major who has finished his studies at
Stirling University, Ramsay fully understands what winning can do
for him globally, but only if he adds to the victory. He admits
he would like to redress the balance of the Walker Cup finish two
years ago in September at Royal County Down in Northern Ireland,
but how well he does in the year's first three majors may
expedite his turning professional. Ramsay's Amateur victory
earned him exemptions into the Masters, U.S. Open and British
The past seven months have also given Ramsay a glimpse into
what being a recognized personality is like. He has received
congratulatory letters from and , and a "well done" and
handshake from , the latter two former GB&I Walker Cup
"I know it only takes a minute or so to do something like
that, but it means an awful lot," he said.
Ramsay hopes that one day he can reciprocate.
is a freelance writer whose work has appeared previously on