Ewen Ferguson’s adventure in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship had a sore – and very costly in terms of prizemoney – finish, but as a sighter for the European Tour, it was invaluable.
The 25-year-old will join the circuit in his own right in 2022 thanks to an assured Challenge Tour qualification. This week was only for fun, but he had a hard time seeing it that way after taking four putts from the right of the Valley of Sin at the Old Course’s 18th for a bogey.
He overcooked his first 12 feet past the pin, leaving him a tricky downhiller that he was too tentative with. The three-footer for par spun out of the hole.
The difference between the dispiriting bogey five and a birdie three – the least of his ambitions when he got to his ball in the Valley – was about £15,000.
‘I felt I was out there forever’
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) October 2, 2021
“I’m lost for words after that,” he said after settling for a tie for 17th place. “It was one of those days I felt I was out there forever.
“I was almost wanting it to be over because I was quite happy with the position I was in. I just lost my concentration a bit at the end.
“It’s amazing what one lapse of concentration can do. You have to focus all the way to the end. I thought it was done and then that happened.”
What the whole week has done has proved the Bearsden boy that he’s ready for the step-up next year.
“I knew my game was in a good place at the start of the week,” he said. “I’ve worked on a few things and changed a few things.
‘I’m ready for the jump up’
“I’m bigger and stronger too. I feel like I’m ready to make the step up to the European Tour and hopefully get myself in contention a few times a year. I’m ready for the jump up.”
Ewen’s put on around 8kg since the first Covid lockdown, although he’s toned back on the gym work.
“I started to get a bit niggly with too much gym work, but I am bigger,” he said. “I’m feeling good.”
What Ferguson would have given for Richie Ramsay’s finish; a hole out from the Valley for an eagle two.
‘That was a cool thing’
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) October 3, 2021
“I remember ‘Chippy’ (Paul Lawrie) holing one from there to win the first Dunhill in 2001,” he said. “But I then thought of the ’95 Open when (Costantino) Rocca holed a similar putt for birdie to get into the play-off.
“I wasn’t going to fall forward banging my fist into the ground like he did (laughing) but I will remember that putt for a long time. That was a cool thing”.
For Ramsay, that leap could take him close to his season’s aim of a top 50 and a spot in the DP World Championship season finale.
“After taking a double there on 12, I just felt I got some justice at the last,” he said. “Finishing eagle has really whet my appetite to be back here at the Open next July.
“I’ve now got three weeks in Spain and a week in Portugal. If all goes well, then hopefully heading to Dubai.”
Strong finish in the cold by Hill
Calum Hill is already guaranteed to be there and it was a strong finish to the week for the Gleneagles Hotel pro. He had a five-under 67 to be the third of the Scots finishing tied for 17th on nine-under.
With that score, Hill maintained his position inside the top 25 of the Race to Dubai.
Grant Forrest was nine-under for his two rounds on the Old Course on Saturday and Sunday, enough to get him into inside the top 30. Stephen Gallacher had a 69 for five-under.