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Golf Feature: - (posted 12th July 1998)

Ross Drummond - the nearly man who struggles on

By Graham Otway

After 20 years on the European Tour, Ross Drummond's quite undistinguished record in tournament play has proved more profitable to the self-advancement of others than to the health of his bank balance.

In 1996 the 42 year old from Prestwick agreed to play the fall guy as author Lawrence Donegan set out to write his acclaimed
account of a season spent as Drummond's caddie.

Donegan, little more than a hacker himself, had been hoping for reflected golfing glory while researching Four iron in the Soul.

But he was soon warned by another caddie: "You must be a good writer, because if you think Ross Drummond is going to win a tournament you have got some imagination."

The book, now in paperback, has sold close to 30,000 copies and apart from brilliantly protraying the privations of a bag carrier's lot it also laid bare Drummond's soul as a golfer existing on the outer edges of fame and fortune. After reading it, nobody would begrudge Drummond just one European Tour victory to fulfil his own lifetime's ambition. Indeed, on Friday Colin Montgomerie seized upon the sight of Drummond's name high on the leaderboard at Loch Lomond to announce that he would love to finish second to his fellow Scot.

Montgomerie claimed his largesse stemmed from the days when he used to practice at Turnberry where Drummond was once the assistant professional - it may only be coincidental that just 24 hours earlier Tom Lehman had been advising Montgomerie to improve his PR image.

Nevertheless, yesterday presented Drummond with the opportunity to emerge from the list of also-rans and bask in his own glory for once. As he started out at four under - three behind the leaders - he had goals in his sights.

To win would earn him around 140,000 and a two and a half year Tour exemption, to finish in the first two an automatic place
in this week's Open and a top-five place would have meant the return of the Tour card taken away from him after winning just
38,000 in 1997.

Drummond's response to such pressures was a fourth round of golf that reflected the career of a nearly man. He appeared nervous, pulling his first three drives into thick rough, dropped two shots on the front nine and seven more in five disastrous holes on the way home, the misery compounded by finding water with his drive at the last.

His progress was monitored on the Internet at the TV-less home in Donegal now used by Donegan while writing his latest book.

He was desperate for Drummond to succeed but also understood the failure. "It's easy enough to play every week if you have
1m in the bank," said Donegan. "If you are a journeyman you are trying to sink putts for a mortgage. He had a dream, he only
ever wanted to win a big European tournament."

Drummond's round of 80 saw him drop to equal 36th place, his cheque for four day's work reduced to 6,205 leaving him still
around 25,000 short of a tour card for next season - a more modest pursuit that will resume today after an overnight trip to join the other hopefuls at Hillside in the final qualifying for Birkdale.