Drummond chequing out Sweden

For Nick Dougherty and Martin Kaymer the battle to grab a Ryder Cup debut resumed in Stockholm with one sharing the lead at the SAS Masters and the other only three behind.

For Nick Dougherty and Martin Kaymer the battle to grab a Ryder Cup debut resumed in Stockholm with one sharing the lead at the SAS Masters and the other only three behind.

But for Scott Drummond the day was much more clear-cut – could he survive to earn only his second pay cheque of the season?

Winner of the European Tour’s flagship PGA Championship at Wentworth in 2004, the Devon-based Scot has had a nightmare slump in which he has crashed out early 16 out of 17 times this year and in 34 of his last 37 tournaments going back to April last year.

He is 274th on the Order of Merit and down to 1,034th in the world, but his opening one under par 69 at Arlandastad put him alongside Kaymer and in touch with overnight front-runners Dougherty, Swede Peter Hanson and Spaniard Pedro Linhart.

“At times it’s been tortuous,” said Drummond. “But you either give up or you dig in and I’ve been working continuously hard.

“I’ve never felt my game is a million miles away, but last month I decided to get help from Graeme McDowell’s coach Clive Tucker and hopefully this is the start of getting back on track.

“It’s been tough, but I think I am pretty strong mentally to come through what I did to get on Tour in the first place.

“When I turned pro I was not one of those who got straight on the circuit or even on the Challenge Tour.

“I had to play mini-tours and when you’ve played for your country as an amateur (it was England rather than Scotland back then) it’s a bit disheartening.”

After four failed attempts to come through the qualifying school Drummond finally made it via the second tier Challenge Tour and the PGA victory, which earned him almost £420,000, came in his rookie season and earned him a five-year exemption.

That runs out at the end of next season, so the 34-year-old father-of-two had time to groove the changes he is making with Tucker.

Dougherty, 15th in the Ryder Cup race, emerged from a mini-slump – tiny in comparison to Drummond certainly – to re-ignite his cup hopes with a 66 yesterday.

Kaymer lies 11th in the standings. Both he and Dougherty were runners-up in the event a year ago and to go one better would mean so much two weeks before the end of the year-long qualifying marathon.

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