Carbon's ambassador on the DP World Tour, Richie Ramsay, has been mixing it in the professional ranks since 2007. But with another season underway with the Middle East Swing, the Scot assures us he's relishing competing with rivals, old and new.
“MAYBE it was no great surprise that Rory (McIlroy) added another title to his substantial collection at the Dubai Desert Classic, even if he had to mount his best ever comeback from 10 shots off the pace going into the third round.
After all, the Emirates Golf Course suits him down to the ground and changes in recent years to toughen it up have helped rather than hinder him. They have encouraged even more separation between Rory and the majority of the field.
After his Saturday 63 he wasn’t at his best on the Sunday but still got over the line and you have to admire him for that.
On the other side of the Atlantic that same weekend, the news was being made by 20-year-old college student Nick Dunlap, who became the youngest amateur winner of a PGA Tour event since 1910.
Last year we had Swedish sensation Ludvig Aberg winning the Omega European Masters – an event I have fond memories of after my 2012 win – and going on to shine as a Ryder Cup rookie in Rome within months of turning pro.
Nick came to my attention when he won last year’s US Amateur title. If he looked closely, he’d see my name there from 2006!
Nick and Ludvig might be exceptional, but I think we will see more young, emerging talent making a rapid impact on the professional game as we move forward.
Why? For one, there are a lot of very talented kids on the college circuit in the States in particular.
But compared to my days as a college player in the States they are taking advantage of the science, the coaching and the technology that has advanced so much.
They have been training for swing speed since they were kids and that is an integral part of the game. They are better equipped to play on the big stage. Talent can take you further earlier in your career.
You could see this coming; it’s just continuing the evolution of the sport since Tiger broke through. The big-headed drivers are a huge factor.
The current generation have been going full pelt at it since they took up the game. Speed is pretty much essential to figure at the top now. If you are a short hitter, you need an unbelievably good all-round game to match these guys.
When I was 16, I bought my first Big Bertha and that's tiny now, it's more like a 5 wood! That club would be 40% of the size of today’s driver. Incredible really.
Some of the guys were hitting nineties clubs before the Dubai Classic and none of the stats were even coming close to their normal driver.
I have a new driver in the bag this season, the Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Max D for those interested in that sort of thing. It carries a bit further, allowing me to play more aggressively at times, particularly out here in the Middle East where you play a lot more golf through the air rather than on the ground.
The first couple of tournaments of the year were a bit of a rollercoaster for me and a timely reminder after the Festive break that golf is a game that can kick your ass!
I had to settle for 21st equal at the Dubai Classic. Decent enough in a strong field but it was a four over third round that undermined my chances of a top 10 finish.
I have had bother with my wrist and the feel of a shot is very different now. I am having to adjust and get used to it. But there has been a lot of good stuff early in the year.
I think my first bogey was at the 36th hole and that was a huge positive when you look at the speed of the greens and how much rough was around them. It wasn’t easy.
Being out in the Middle East early in the year playing in a competitive environment is great in terms of energising myself.
I’m looking to build momentum with Bahrain and Qatar after Ras Al Khaimah in the UAE. I’ll give Kenya a miss and after a short break back home I’ll be heading for South Africa and Singapore.”
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