Ramsay takes first European title

THREE years after becoming the first Scot to win the US Amateur title in 108 years, Richie Ramsay now has his first European Tour title.

The 25-year-old from Aberdeen won the South African Open at Pearl Valley yesterday, coming from five behind with a best-of-the-day 65 and then beating Indian Shiv Kapur with a birdie on the first play-off hole.

“There’s no greater feeling than winning and I’m just a flood of emotions – I’m holding back the tears,” said Ramsay after receiving the second oldest trophy in golf.

The pair tied on the 13-under-par mark of 275 but the former Walker Cup player grabbed the first prize of €160,000 – and a Tour exemption that runs until the end of 2011 – when he was on the green in two at the 601-yard 18th and two-putted.

“Things just went for me,” he added. “But I am a lot more positive now – I go out believing and thinking I can win.”

Ramsay did not drop a shot all day, going to the turn in 33 and then grabbing more birdies on the 10th, 12th, 15th and 17th.

The last of those, a 14-footer following a superb approach from the rough over water, brought Ramsay into the joint lead and, after he had missed a 25-foot birdie chance on the last, Kapur stood on the same green with a 12-foot putt for his first Tour title but missed.

Denmark’s Anders Hansen, Swede Fredrik Andersson Hed and Italian Edoardo Molinari all could have joined the play-off with a closing eagle but failed.

Hansen’s birdie left him third, while the other two parred to be joint fourth – and that was good enough for Molinari to climb into the world’s top 50 just in time to join his brother Francesco in the Masters at Augusta in April. Overnight leader Pablo Martin, winner of last week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship, dropped to sixth place with a 73.

Ramsay went into the event ranked 240th in the world and the victory will take him just inside the top 120.

That makes him the second highest-ranked Scot behind US Tour-based Martin Laird. The last Scottish winner on the European circuit was Alastair Forsyth in Portugal 19 months ago.

It was not until he came fourth at the Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews in October that Ramsay made sure of keeping his card. He led the Wales Open earlier in the year but found himself in a rules controversy and the fact he escaped punishment upset a number of other players.

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