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Richie Ramsay wins US Amateur

Richie Ramsay smiled when thinking about how his mates back home in Scotland were celebrating his victory in the U.S. Amateur on Sunday.

"It will last quite a while, I think," Ramsay said. "I think they are down at the local pub having a few drinks."

Truthfully, Ramsay can't be sure how the celebration goes for a Scottish win in the U.S. Amateur. There hasn't been one in 108 years.

A flawless iron game and an unflappable demeanor forged from hardships endured earlier in the week helped Ramsay end that streak with a 4 and 2 victory over John Kelly at Hazeltine National Golf Club.

Ramsay made just two bogeys and hit 30 of 34 greens to become the first Scotsman to win the Amateur since Findlay Douglas in 1898.

The victory was extra special because it earned Ramsay an invite to the 2007 British Open at Carnoustie, a 45-minute drive from his home in Aberdeen.

"The best names in the business are on that trophy," an awed Ramsay said of the British Open, before looking to the Amateur trophy he was clutching on Hazeltine's signature 16th. "And the best names in the biz are on this trophy."

On the 10th anniversary of Tiger Woods' third straight Amateur title, Ramsay joined the likes of Woods, Bobby Jones and Arnold Palmer as winners of the weeklong endurance test. The field started with 312 golfers on Monday, and Ramsay methodically outlasted every last one of them.

Ramsay may lack the flair and flash of Woods' game, but the Scotsman's stone-cold precision caused fits for Kelly, a senior at Missouri.

"He kept hitting shot after shot after shot," Kelly said. "It was great golf. It drove me crazy."

Trailing by three on the 16th, Kelly lined up for a 12-foot birdie putt that would have at least forced Ramsay to make a difficult 10-footer to clinch the match. The putt rimmed out, and a dejected Kelly dropped his putter in disbelief and turned his head to the sky.

"He really stuck it to me all day," said Kelly, his eyes welling up slightly.

After Ramsay took a 2-up lead during the morning 18 holes, Kelly spent much of the afternoon session looking for an opening to make up ground.

He bogeyed No. 8 to fall behind 3-up, but looked to snatch momentum on the 10th, when he drained a 60-foot birdie putt.

Kelly pumped his fist, Tiger-style, and the crowd of about 3,500 erupted, urging the American to get back in the match.

The steely Ramsay never wavered, parring 11 and 12 before Kelly's tee shot on 13 went left and into the water. The bogey gave Ramsay a 3-up lead with five holes to play, and the match was all but over.

"He doesn't do a whole lot wrong," Kelly said. "Everything's just good about that guy's game."

Ramsay, who attends Stirling University in Scotland and still caddies at Royal Aberdeen, can attribute much of the mental toughness on display Sunday to some adversity earlier in the weekend.

On Friday, 17-year-old caddie Thomas Buller touched Ramsay's putting line on No. 17, causing an automatic loss of hole. Ramsay gave away No. 16 on Sunday when he hit the ground during a practice swing in a hazard.

"It just toughened me up a little bit," Ramsay said of the penalties.

Buller, the son of the host family Ramsay stayed with while in Minnesota, drew plenty of flak for his mistake on Friday. Yet one of the enduring images of the tournament was Ramsay embracing the youngster on the 16th green immediately after Kelly conceded.

"He may have made one mistake," Ramsay said. "But he did a helluva lot of good out here for me."

 

 




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