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Ramsay's childhood dream may be shattered by shoulder injury

Fit like?

Richie Ramsay may be smiling but inside he will be struggling to maintain morale. Picture: Colin Mearns
Richie Ramsay may be smiling but inside he will be struggling to maintain morale. Picture: Colin Mearns

Pose that well-used Aberdonian enquiry of one's general fettle to Richie Ramsay at the moment and the response will be decidedly downbeat. This was supposed to be the week where he realised a childhood dream: a home Open, in his home city, on his home course. That dream now hangs in the balance. A shoulder injury picked up during the middle of his second round of last week's French Open is now threatening to scupper his hopes of teeing up in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open. "I'd say it's 50-50," said Ramsay when asked to rate his prospects.

Always one of the more passionate, heart-on-the-sleeve type characters, Ramsay was visibly emotional as he raked over a largely dispiriting season which has been beset by injuries and illness and is now in danger of plumbing a new low. He was sidelined for more than four months at the start of the campaign with ankle ligament damage and was then floored by a mysterious virus, picked up during an event in Singapore, before this latest ailment struck him.

Withdrawing from the domestic showpiece on the course he grew up golfing on would be another damaging dunt to morale. Ramsay, who has not hit a ball since the searing pain surged through his shoulder at the weekend, is hoping that it will not come to that and he will give it until the last possible minute before making a decision.

"This is the biggest tournament for the Scottish players outside of probably the Open," added the two-time European Tour champion. "For me, I've been thinking about rolling putts from 10 feet to win the Scottish Open, not to win the Open. I just want that chance to have that putt.

"My head is saying 'don't go out; you're going to hurt it', but the heart is saying 'you're playing at Royal Aberdeen; it's your home Open; you've got to play'. It's just a lot of different emotions at the minute. If this was any other tournament I would be home, for sure. There would not even be a question of teeing up."

As ever in these moments of professional woe, a sense of perspective helps to ease the anguish. "You sit there and you get depressed about it and you think, 'nothing's ever going to turn around and all I want to do is go and play golf'," said the former US Amateur champion. "The flip side, of course, is that at the end of the day I'm not really having too much hardship. You know, I'm not doing some of the things that some other guys do and get a lot of credit for.

"I was down at Kingsfield [the practice facility near Linlithgow] recently and this guy walks in and it's a guy that's been fighting in Afghanistan. I've hurt my neck and shoulder, he's been getting shot at by a sniper.

"You sometimes think you're the unluckiest person in the world, but you need to have these doses of perspective occasionally."

One man with no such injury concerns is Ramsay's fellow Scot, Russell Knox. The 29-year-old Inverness exile, who has been based in the USA for more than a decade now and is firmly established on the PGA Tour, will finally make a long-awaited first professional appearance in the country of his birth. "I turned pro in 2007, and to wait seven years for this? Well, hopefully it will be worth it," he said with great anticipation.

Knox, the world No.99, has come on in leaps and bounds since he departed these shores and ventured forth to Jacksonville University in Florida to chase the American dream.

At the time he left, he had been making decent strides as a promising player in Inverness Caledonian Thistle's youth team. The goalposts have changed a bit since then, of course. "When I left I was so much better at football than I was at golf," reflected Knox. "Coming back here, having had some success in golf, is a weird feeling. I see players who I thought I would never be as good as and now I'm as good, maybe even a little better, than them.

"Funnily enough, I played the 2005 Scottish Amateur Strokeplay here at Royal Aberdeen. It was one of my first good finishes at that level and it was the tournament where I thought, 'I'm actually not bad at golf'. I wasn't just a footballer playing golf. I could do this."

Knox's confident, can-do approach has certainly reaped the rewards. He may be firmly settled in the US but the lure of the dear auld haunts of his homeland remain strong. Family, friends, sea breezes, links golf? Knox misses them all. "But the thing I miss most is prawn cocktail crisps," he added with a smile. "I love them and you just don't get them in the US."

After seven years of waiting, Knox is ready for the crunch.

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