Scottish Amateur Thrust into Spotlight

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ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- After two dozen rounds at golf's hallowed home, including an ace on 11, Eric Ramsay has plenty of good memories of the Old Course.
 
Yet the Scottish amateur, who is used to having just his parents following him around the course, chose the ideal day to post his best score, a 4-under 68.
 
Thursday was the first day of the British Open and, at the time Ramsay finished, only Tiger Woods had scored better. He ended the day tied for third with eight others, two shots back.
 
Ramsay had an ever increasing gallery watch him recover from bogeys at the second and fourth to finish with seven birdies in the last 13 holes. The last thing he expected was an invite into the media tent to tell a packed news conference all about his round.
 
``Definitely not,'' he said. ``I was just trying to hopefully come and enjoy it and see how I played.
 
``I was quite nervous when I came here on Monday and saw all the stars on the practice ground,'' Ramsay said. The best thing, he said, was ``just being able to hit balls on the range with all the top pros in the world.''
 
So what was it like to look up and see just Woods ahead of him in the clubhouse?
 
``I was just out there, just relaxed, having fun,'' he said. ``I wasn't really thinking too much of my scoring. I holed a couple of nice putts near the end.''
 
Ramsay, who lives close to another famous course at nearby Carnoustie, three putted the second and fourth to drop early shots before recovering with birdie putts on four of the next six holes.
 
He three putted again at the par 3 11th for his third and final bogey before picking up two more birdies at 14 and 15, including a 60-footer from the back edge of the 15th green. A chip and run at the last left him with a 20-footer which he made for his seventh birdie.
 
From his brief answers to fairly routine questions, it seemed clear that the lanky Scot, who won the Australian Amateur Championship in March and plans to turn pro later this year, is not used to giving news conferences.
 
Have you scored lower than this?
 
``No.''
 
What was your previous low?
 
``70''
 
How do you manage to stay relaxed in the biggest tournament of your life?
 
``Just try to enjoy it.''
 
Ramsay's amateur career is financed by proceeds from the national lottery's sports program, and he carries a handicap of plus 4.
 
After Thursday's exploits, he expects his gallery to be even bigger on Friday.
 
``There's quite a few people today. I think more people are coming tomorrow,'' he said. ``A lot of friends are off work.''
 
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