Drummond aims higher in new world of rich pickings

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The Independent Online

Nick Faldo, like many of his peers at Wentworth over the weekend, had never heard of the new Volvo PGA champion, Scott Drummond. But even with his glasses - his fingers are too large to get contact lenses in and out - the four-times winner of the European Tour's flagship event knew what he was seeing. "If you have the bottle to get around this course then it shows you have talent," Faldo said.

Nick Faldo, like many of his peers at Wentworth over the weekend, had never heard of the new Volvo PGA champion, Scott Drummond. But even with his glasses - his fingers are too large to get contact lenses in and out - the four-times winner of the European Tour's flagship event knew what he was seeing. "If you have the bottle to get around this course then it shows you have talent," Faldo said.

Drummond had never played the West Course before last Monday, but on Sunday he waltzed round in 64, as Colin Montgomerie did five years ago, on what turned out to be a life-changing afternoon.

"I've certainly surprised myself," said the 30-year-old from Shropshire. "I was expecting to feel the pressure on the back nine but I was probably more nervous on the last six holes on Saturday. My game was so good, I felt in control. I just stayed relaxed. I can't put my finger on why I've been able to do it this week."

Like all rookies, Drummond's aim this season was merely to keep his Tour card. Having only made the cut three times in 11 events, merely playing on the weekend was an achievement.

But everything has now changed. He pocketed a cheque for £420,000, as well as £5,000 for the bet he had on himself at 500-1. He has a place in the Open at Royal Troon, something he missed out on last time in Ayrshire in 1997 when he had a double-bogey on the last hole of the qualifying competition.

On the Order of Merit, he jumped from 186th to eighth place. He also moved up 340 places on the world rankings, from 435th to 95th. On the European points list of the Ryder Cup table he came from nowhere to 12th place.

Suddenly, playing at Oakland Hills against the Americans in September is a realistic possibility, rather than a joke. "Some friends were trying to make me feel better about my form earlier in the season, but I just said if I won a couple of the big events I could be in the Ryder Cup," he recalled.

To secure a place on the team he will have to continue to produce the form he showed last week. If he slips back into the pre-Wentworth routine, it will not happen. Not even Drummond, perhaps, knows what is about to unfold now.

Golf has been his game ever since he tagged along to watch his father, George, play at the age of six. He had his first hole-in-one at nine. He played amateur golf for England - he was England Boys captain and played at full international level with Steve Webster - but took his family's Scottish allegiance on turning professional.

Years on the minor circuits followed, journeying through the Hippo Tour, the Futures Tour, the Mastercard Tour and then the Challenge Tour, from which he earned full playing rights last year.

"My dad is so much behind me," he said. "I don't know how he did it but he always made funds available for me to keep going. He has lived for my golf - it has always been his dream for me to get on Tour. After this, he is going to be uncontrollable."

Faldo's 66 was overshadowed, but represented an equally remarkable renaissance in form. He now heads for a pre-qualifier for the US Open at Lake Nona in Orlando next week. It is the first time he has tried to pre-qualify for a major since 1976.

Montgomerie, who dropped to 57th in the world, said he will not try and qualify for the US Open. Joakim Haeggman, third at Wentworth, moved up to 50th in the world to become exempt for Shinnecock Hills in his bid to play on the Ryder Cup team rather than act as an assistant to captain Bernhard Langer.

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