DAVID DRYSDALE knows a thing or two about acts of escapology. The way the Scot clung on to his DP World Tour card at the end of 2021, for instance, was as nail-nibbling as watching Harry Houdini trying to shoogle out of a straitjacket while plunged in a tank of water.

Drysdale missed the cut in the final event of the regular campaign in Dubai and could only twiddle his thumbs on the sidelines and hope his rivals in peril didn’t leapfrog him on the rankings.

During a ghoulish version of golfing Hokey Cokey, Drysdale was in, out, then in again as his fortunes fluctuated like shares on the stock market. In the end, Drysdale remained in 121st place – the final spot for retaining a full card – and was safe for another year.

There was one thing Drysdale couldn’t escape from, though. The bloomin’ Coronavirus. Having been caught up in the pandemonium of the Omicron outbreak in South Africa before Christmas, Drysdale, and his wife and caddie Vicky, avoided the costly quarantine in the UK by spending 10 days on the shimmering sun-soaked beaches of Zanzibar, the birthplace of Freddie Mercury. I want to break free? Well, not quite.

“Zanzibar wasn’t on the UK red list so rather than spending £3,700 for the pair of us to sit in a hotel room at home, we got 10 days on a beach for way less than that,” explained Drysdale. “When I got home, though, I started feeling a bit rough. I went to bed for a nap and two hours later it was like someone had thrown a bucket of water over me. The sweat was pouring off me. I tested positive on Christmas Day and Vicky’s was positive on Boxing Day. That was us locked up for 10 days. We’ve been lucky really to have avoided Covid for the best part of two years. It finally caught us but at least we were in our own home.”

Having been released back into the wild, Drysdale set about preparing for this week’s cash-sodden Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. But what do they say about the best laid plans?

“I arrived over here and was tested as a presumptive positive, which I’d never heard of, so had to spend three days in quarantine,” said the 46-year-old of this added hassle. “It’s impacted my build up a bit but we’re all ship shape now.”

Drysdale is now in his 14th unbroken season on the tour and remains as hungry as ever.

The stomach-churning way he kept his card last season is not an experience he’d like to repeat but, with the golfing gods looking down kindly on him, he’s determined to make the most of his reprieve as the tour moves into a season of record-breaking prize money.

“I was very lucky in the end,” he conceded. “But it’s up to me to make the most of the lifeline. I’ve been out here a long time. I still love the travelling and the competition. I’ve not lost that enthusiasm at all.”

Thirty years ago, as a teenage amateur at Muirfield in 1992, Drysdale got a taste of The Open as a marker for both John Daly and Roger Chapman. “Bloody hell, 30 years?,” he said with a splutter. He’s played in only two as a pro, in 2009 and 2017, and the 150th Open at St Andrews this July is an occasion he doesn’t want to miss. “I have a few chances to qualify so hopefully I can take one of them," he said. "It's the one everybody wants to be at."