Ramsay's good deed

August 25, 2006

__CHASKA, MINN.—The golf gods looked kindly on__Richie Ramsay Friday at Hazeltine National GC, perhaps because the 23-year-old Scotsman looking kindly on an unintentional blunderer who nearly got him knocked out of the 106th U.S. Amateur Championship.

Ramsay’s caddie, Thomas Buller, didn’t mean to cost his player the 17th hole in his quarterfinal match with Rickie Fowler. Yet when the high schooler touched the green on the 182-yard par 3 before Ramsay, 1 up in the match at the time, made his birdie try from 20 feet, the damage had been done. When rules official__Dick Rundle __talked to Buller and confirmed he had made the infraction, it was a loss of hole penalty for Ramsay, bringing the match to all square.

Buller, son of the host family that’s housing Ramsay this week was obviously shaken. So too was Ramsay. However, he didn’t let his emotions get the best of him.

“I just said to him, ‘Don't worry about it, it’s all right.’ I mean, he's touched the line. He's made a mistake. I've made mistakes. You've just got to think he's going to learn from it.

“It's tough, but I know he's feeling bad,” Ramsay continued. “If I turn around and say something to him, he's going to feel even worse.”

Credit Ramsay for such level-headed thinking. It also probably allowed him to hang in the match, as he rolled in a 12-foot par putt on the 18th to extend Fowler to extra holes before making a 15-foot birdie putt on the 21st hole to advance to the Saturday’s semifinal, where he’ll face Webb Simpson. The winner of that match will lock up invitations to the Masters and the U.S. Open.

Suffice it to say, Ramsay got his good break on the 19th hole, when he lipped out a 10-foot birdie putt, only to watch Fowler pull a five-foot birdie try that would have ended the match.

An Aberdeen, Scotland native who is finishing up his studies at the University of Sterling after playing on the GB&I Walker Cup team in 2005, Ramsay admitted he might not have handled the situation as well had it happened a year earlier. In 2006, he began working with a sports psychologist, Richard Cox, who help him maintain focus on the golf course.

“Some people, when I hit a bad shot I kind of talk to myself and some people quite rightly think that I'm nuts,” recalled Ramsay. “That's fair enough.”

When the incident occurred on 17, all I could think of was Ian Woosman and his tirade with his caddie at the 2001 British Open when a 15th club was discovered in his bag at the start of the final round. Without any hesitation in his voice, though, Ramsay said that Buller will be back on the bag versus Simpson and again Sunday if he were to advance to the 36-hole final. (The winner of the Ramsay-Simpson match plays the winner of the Ryan Yip-John Kelly semifinal.)

I wish I could say all the competitors here this week outside the Twin Cities would have reacted as gentile as Ramsay. Had he lost to Fowler, he would have accepted what happened and moved on. There is some justice, however, in the fact that Ramsay is the one who’ll tee it up again.