CRANS-SUR-SIERRE, Switzerland – Richie Ramsay captured the biggest prize of his professional golf career on Sunday, three weeks before he returns to the scene of his greatest amateur triumph to get married.
Ramsay shot a 5-under 66 to win the European Masters by four strokes. The 29-year-old Scotsman was in control for most of the final round in the sun-bathed Swiss Alps and finished at 16-under 267. Four players tied for second.
"It's just incredible, the whole day went to plan," said Ramsay, who thought the win would move his career "up a notch. It definitely pushes me to another level."
Ramsay earned $440,000 for his second European Tour victory, following the South African Open title in 2009. The overnight leader put the victory above his triumph in the 2006 U.S. Amateur Championship, which he won in Hazeltine, Minn.
"It's a bigger win than the U.S. Amateur," said Ramsay, who is now based in Atlanta. "If you look at the field and the place and the way that I did it."
It was one timely victory, too.
Ramsay is planning to marry Angela Hudinski on Sept. 21 at the Hazeltine club where they met during the tournament that launched his international reputation.
"I met Angela there and we're going back there to get married," Ramsay said, joking that their guests will now expect him to fund the drinks bill.
Ramsay, who is set to move up the world rankings from No. 110 into the top 70, had never before led a tour event after 54 holes, and countryman Paul Lawrie was favored Sunday as he sought back-to-back victories after winning the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
Lawrie faded and he shot 70 for a share of sixth in his last tournament before joining Europe's team for the Ryder Cup from Sept. 28-30 at Medinah, Ill.
Danny Willett of England, who played in the final threesome with Ramsay and Lawrie, grabbed a share of second. Fredrik Andersson Hed of Sweden, Marcus Fraser of Australia and France's Romain Wattel also finished at 271.
After three days of rain, fog and low temperatures in the Swiss Alps, Ramsay finally played in bright sunshine on the Seve Ballesteros-designed course circled by snow-capped mountains.
Ramsay began his round with a one-stroke lead and was quickly joined at 12 under by Lawrie, the 1999 British Open champion who carded an early eagle.
Despite missing birdie chances at Nos. 5 and 6, Ramsay completed the front nine holes in 31. He led Willett by three at the turn, with Lawrie let down by his driving off the tee.
Ramsay effectively sealed the title by holing his approach shot — a wedge from 130 yards — for eagle at the par-5 14th.
"I just put my foot on the gas and that gave me some breathing space," Ramsay said.
Mathias Gronberg had a hole-in-one at No. 3, sinking his 7-iron from 191 yards. The Swede had a 71 in the final round to finish at 8 under.