Sunday, August 27, 2006





Royal Aberdeen’s Richie Ramsay has put himself into the golfing history books by becoming the first Scot over 100 years to win the United States amateur golf championship.

The 23-year-old Stirling University student was always in the driving seat in the 36-hole finale over the tough Hazeltine National course at Chaska, Minnesota against 21-year-old John Kelly from St Louis Missouri and won the title and the Havemeyer Trophy by 4 and 2


Richie played superlative golf over a monster course. He was three under par and two up at the end of the first 18 holes.

He was three under par for the second round when he ended the match with a birdie at the 34th hole.

Ramsay thus earns the right to play in next year’s US Masters, the US Open and the Open at Carnoustie – if he remains an amateur.

Prior to the final, Richie said he wanted to play in next year’s Walker Cup match and only after that would he enter the qualifying process which would make him a tour pro eventually.

Some 36 years ago, the Hazeltine National course, which has par-5s over 600 yards long, was the scene of Tony Jacklin’s epic win over the Americans in the 1970 US Open.

Now a Scot – the first to contest the final since Jack McLean lost to Johnny Fisher at the 37th in 1936 – has capped a glory week by winning one of the most coveted golf titles in the world.

Tiger Woods won the US amateur championship three years in a row in the mid-1990s.

Ramsay won four of six holes with birdies to take a three hole lead before Kelly trimmed it back to two holes at the lunch-time break.

 Ramsay is  the first Scot to win the US amateur since Findlay Douglas from St Andrews in 1898. Two of the last three US amateur champions have been foreign-born –- Nick Flanagan of Australia in 2003 and Edoardo Molinari of Italy in 2005.

Ramsey and Kelly each won two of the first eight holes, but Ramsey’s birdie on the par-3 eighth started a three-hole run that put him comfortably ahead. He took advantage of Kelly’s misfortune on the ninth and won the hole when Kelly conceded his 15-foot putt for birdie, and then sank a 20-footer for a winning birdie on the 10th.

Ramsay, whose biggest wins prior to this were in the Scottish open amateur stroke-play championship at Lundin Links and the Irish open amateur stroke-play championship,  also took the 13th by concession when Kelly missed his approach to the right and needed two chips to get on the green. Ramsay had again put the pressure on by hitting his long-iron tee shot to within 18 feet of the hole.

"Without being big-headed, if I go out and play my game and play the shots that are in my bag, there’s no reason why I can’t win," said Ramsay earlier in the week. "You’ve got to think you can win."

Kelly trimmed Ramsay’s lead by making a two-putt birdie on the 313-yard par-4 14th, but Kelly found trouble again on the 16th, hitting his 6-irionn approach into the hazard behind the green, and Ramsay needed only an easy par to move back to 3 up.

Ramsay putted his 50-foot birdie chance off the green and made a bogey to lose the 17th hole, his first bogey since the first hole of the day. He was the equivalent of 3-under-par for his morning round, with the usual concessions given for match play.

A senior at Stirling University, Ramsay will graduate in December with a marketing degree.

In last year’s Walker Cup match at Chicago, Ramsay partnered his golfing buddy Lloyd Saltman in the foursomes but did not get a game in the singles on either day.

"I’ve had the 2007 Walker Cup in the back of my mind ever since," said Ramsay, who is committed to staying an amateur until at least September 2007.

Kelly’s claim to fame before this week was his win at the 2006 Missouri Stroke Play Championship.

Ramsay is a good friend of Paul Lawrie who has been encouraging him every day with text messages.