Aberdeen’s Richie Ramsay was relieved to make it through a difficult tussle in the opening round of the Aberdeen Asset Management Paul Lawrie Match Play with two-time Ryder Cup player David Howell.
Ramsay, the number eight seed, would have been cursing his luck when he was drawn to face Howell, a semi-finalist at last year’s inaugural event and five-time European Tour winner.
After a positive start, Ramsay was 3-up after the opening seven holes at Archerfield Links but Howell refused to accept defeat, winning the 14th and 15thto give the Aberdonian a slender advantage over the closing holes.
But Ramsay held his nerve and drained a 15-foot birdie putt on the last to claim the match by one hole.
He said: “There were a lot of really good unseeded player in the draw, such as Thomas Bjorn and David.
“Someone said to me there were 41 European Tour winners in the 64-man field so a lot of these players know what it is like to perform under pressure and win a European Tour title.
“There are not going to be any easy games.
“I played well and drove the ball ridiculous – I was in the middle of every fairway and that’s a big advantage.
“I didn’t hole anything all day so it was good to finish with a putt like that.
“It was a clutch way to win as I knew David wasn’t going to miss his putt as he is so good on the greens.”
Ramsay had a new caddie on the bag – Nick Fidgeon – after having worked with Irishman Colin Byrne at the Scottish Open and the Open.
He said: “Nick and Colin are going to job share.
“Colin has some commitments over the next while so I asked Nick if he would be open to that idea.
“I think it could work. It will keep things fresh as they are just going to do a few weeks each between now and the end of the year.”
Marc Warren has endured a difficult 2016 season and has dropped more than 100 places in the world rankings since the start of the year to his current position of 192.
But the 35-year-old produced some of his best golf for a long time to defeat Spaniard Jorge Campillo 3&2.
He said: “It’s a great event and I really enjoyed the format last year.
“I made seven birdies which is the most for a while.
“That has been the biggest complaint of my game. I have been driving the ball well but not taking advantage.
“I’m making cuts but seem to be going backwards at the weekend and that is down to not making enough birdies.”