A young pro worked his butt off as an assistant in the shop, played with the members who helped him through regional pro events and, after years at it, national events. If he had the stamina and the stomach, character, talent and determination, he might make the international scene. With the founding of the European Tour it wasn't made any easier for a good young-'un to make the big time. You could risk all your money and well being on the rigours of the qualifying school in Spain. You could also do the graft of graduating the Hippo Tour to the Futures Tour to the Challenge Tour and find yourself as fourth reserve on the entry sheet for the PGA Championship at Wentworth.
This is the hard way and this was how Scott Drummond did it and that was how he made himself PGA Champion this year.
At a time in golf when it appears that the unlikely is not unlikely to happen, Scott Drummond's name will go down with that of Paul Lawrie, Rich Beam, Shaun Micheel and Ben Curtis as a surprise winner. Certainly his win came as a surprise for he was ranked 435th in the world - even Paul Lawrie was 159th and Curtis was 396th! His winnings to date have not topped £40K and his best finish in a full Tour event to date was a dizzy tied 16th place in the Dunhill championshiop. The lad has struggled.
To those in the know, however, the 30-year old Drummond has long been recognised as made of the right stuff.
He had a dazzling amateur career playing for England at every level. He also went about his business as an emerging pro with a thoroughness that suggested that there was much to come. Then there was also the fact that although he represented England as an amateur, Scott Drummond is not only a Scot but he is also a 100% Fifer. His family hails from Burntisland where folk glare across the Firth of Forth at the pretensions of Edinburgh and are unimpressed. Being domiciled in England appears not to have diluted the bulldog spirit of the Drummonds.
Set against Angel Cabrera, the raging bull of the Pampas, it was a contest that, bulldog spirit or no, the seasoned Argentinean was always likely to win. Cabrera certainly did not make life easy for the young Fifer for he returned a 67 in the last round for a 17 under-par total. But Drummond won by two strokes after returning an almost unbelievable last round 64 for 19 under par. There are no superlatives that adequately describe this achievement.
As a fourth reserve to get into this event and available as a 500-1 outsider to take the title, to describe Drummond as a long-shot would be like rating Claire Short for the Miss Universe Title. But fortunes, like tastes, change, and for Drummond it all came together and stayed together for four days. Watching his composure as he holed a 10-foot birdie putt on the last green, one cannot help but wonder why he has not done this before. His confidence and style made him look like a Major winner and not a player aspiring to be 'rookie of the year'.
Unlike Curtis at St George's or Lawrie at Carnoustie, Drummond did not falter in the last round nor require a play-off to take the PGA title. He came from a pack of stature and showed no signs of intimidation. Any of a dozen players could have done it on the last day and it was never likely to be Drummond.
Of the 25,000 spectators that thronged Wentworth, few waited for Cabrera and Drummond to tee-off in the last game. The majority were out there with a bespeckled Faldo or Ernie Els, both past masters of the West Course. Although they saw some great golf it was as nothing compared to what they were missing as Drummond and Cabrera locked horns and teeth. Their golf was superb and both wielded putters so hot that they were molten.
Drummond holed putts from 20 feet at the 7th, 15 feet at the 10th, a 40-footer at the 13th and he did it again at the 17th. Everyone was there to see him hole the 10-footer for the title at the 18th but that was the icing on the cake. Drummond had already done enough to merit the title and all that it brings - automatic entry to the Open as well as the World Championship at Akron and a five-year Tour exemption. He deserves it all, as well as the luxury of banking nearly half a million pounds this week.
Scott Drummond's win is as reassuring as a good claret. His white trousers may not be in style and his pragmatism may not be promotable, but his good solid play and lack of flamboyance in this age of hype is as refreshing as a crisp, cold winter's morning play on the links. The fact that he is genetically a Fifer who has done it the hard way warms the cockles of my heart.
|| 31 - MAY 2004