A year on from the closest of so many close things in his two decades on tour, David Drysdale is still making every effort to win on the European Tour at last.
The 45-year-old Scot lost a five-hole sudden death play-off to Spain’s Jorge Campillo at the Qatar Masters, the last event before the Tour was plunged into the pandemic lockdown.
Back at the same venue a year on, the urge to finally win after more than 500 starts on Tour is still acute.
‘Winning is the reason I practice and keep going’
“Obviously last year and the play-off, I’m looking forward to getting back out there,” he said on arriving in Qatar. “I’ve got some great memories from last year.
“I’d have won if it wasn’t for Jorge Campillo’s ridiculous putting – hats off to him. I hit a lot of good golf shots that week. I know I’ve got the stuff to do it, I just need to get in that position more often.
“Winning’s still the main goal, the reason I practice and keep going. Last year was a great opportunity and those opportunities haven’t come along as much as I’d have liked in my career.
“But I’m trying to get in that position again. I know I can hit some good golf shots under pressure.”
He doesn’t ignore the fact he’s played the longest and the most events on tour without winning of any other player, but to be still out there after 20 years shows he’s been doing something right.
‘It would still be a career to be proud of’
“I think I put pressure on myself to some degree every day with respect to the standards I expect,” he said. “I’m not trying to brush anything under the carpet or play it down.
“I’ve openly said years, I’ve been out here for almost 20 years, if I hang my boots up having not won on the European Tour I’d be bitterly disappointed. But I think it would still be a career to look back on and be proud of.
“The last few years I’ve been inconsistent. I didn’t play well when we came back from lockdown, picked up an injury and battled a wee bit. I’d like to be a bit more consistent like it used to be a few seasons ago.”
‘The Florida sunshine is a great option’
Drysdale is fully in favour with the tour’s plan to potentially play in Florida next month. Pandemic restrictions may not allow scheduled events in Spain and Portugal, although details are still lacking.
“I think it would be fantastic to go to the States for three weeks,” he said. “It’s looking like the Canaries and Portugal are doubtful, in my opinion.
“I think the guys would love that. Everyone I’ve spoken to would be looking forward to that. More than likely we’d be in a bubble system, but that would be fine.
“I’m not sure if this is a means of the PGA Tour trying to help us out in a sticky situation, with the new alliance, when we are struggling to travel the world here in Europe.
“We can’t play in the UK and places like that at the moment at this time of year, so the Florida sunshine would be a great option. Let’s hope it comes off.”
‘He’s literally twice the size he was four years ago’
In the meantime, Drysdale was watching Arnold Palmer winner Bryson DeChambeau closely at the weekend. The Scot played with the American in his debut in Europe, at Abu Dhabi in 2016.
“Even then he had a completely different way of playing with the same-length clubs and his upright posture,” recalled Drysdale. “The first day he shot seven or eight under and looked like a potential World Number One.
“The next day he hit it all over the place. He looked completely different over the two days. I saw him at the start of this year in Saudi, he’s literally twice the size he was four or five years ago.”
“It’s a completely different game. I’ve played with Rory, and there’s a lot of guys who hit it a long way. But (DeChambeau) just seems to have moved the needle on the distance debate.
“I saw a lot on social media of him hitting the tee shot on six at the Arnold Palmer. That’s a 370 carry over water, that’s doing me in the air by 90 yards!
“But I saw him hitting drivers on the range and you have to be concerned for his footwork and his ankles. I don’t know how long he can keep that up.”
Westwood as inspiration
The man DeChambeau edged at the Arnold Palmer Invitational gives Drysdale some added inspiration, though.
“What a player Lee Westwood has been for the last 25 years,” he said. “He’s made ten Ryder Cup appearances and I’m sure he’ll make an 11th this year.
“Incredible consistency to be in the top 50 for as long as he’s been. He’s not all that far off 48. It’s nice to see what happens if you keep fit and injury free. I haven’t the last couple of years, but I’ve been working hard on that.
“There might be a few more years in me yet.”