Long gone are those carefree days on the golf course when a young Ashlan Ramsey carried very little expectations in regularly competing against girls much older and more experienced.
She’s always had the talent and ambition to play up a level or two, although she’s currently elevated to such rarified air that she now can’t help but bear the burden that consistent success can bring.
So far she’s slipped into that winning persona as easily as she dons a golf glove and the face of Clemson’s inaugural women’s golf program appears more than ready to make the Tigers instantly legit on the national scene this fall.
The 17-year-old from Milledgeville, Ga. had won three consecutive big-time amateur events before earning medalist honors Monday on Kiawah Island by two shots during qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Amateur to be held Aug. 5 at Charleston Country Club. Ramsey is now the country’s No. 1 ranked amateur and second in the world to New Zealand’s Lydia Ko.
“There is definitely a different feeling about things now because growing up I’ve always played as a younger person against older age groups and been kind of the underdog and not really having high expectations,” Ramsey said. “I would just see how I could do going out and competing against bigger girls.
“Now I’m one of the older kids and ranked up at the top and that kind of adds a little pressure that can be a challenge, but you just get out and play the course and not worry about things like rankings and the level of competition in the field. Being ranked this high is just part of the challenge and part of the kind of hurdles that come with having such high expectations not only for myself, but having them from other people.
“It’s definitely a balancing act to try and deal with the different pressures and the high expectations, but I have a good support system around me that keeps me grounded and keeps my priorities straight so that’s been a big help.”
As far as her lofty stance in the world rankings, Ramsey is simply in it to win it whenever she puts a tee in the ground and while she can have a bit of fun keeping an eye on such peripheral matters, she prefers to keep focused on playing well.
“I definitely follow the rankings and look at it a little bit, but it’s not something I base my game off of and I don’t go into any tournament thinking about that,” Ramsey said. “The rankings come from playing well and playing well kind of takes care of everything. The main thing I’ve tried to learn through the years is just keep your head down, play your game and things will take care of themselves. I never want to get caught up in all the rankings and the publicity that come from playing well. I just want to take everything as it comes and keep playing at a high level.”
She’s done that to near perfection in recent weeks with consecutive victories at the Women’s Eastern Golf Association Amateur Championship in Williamsburg, Va., the Western National Amateur in Dayton, Ohio and the Georgia Women’s Match Play Championship in Braselton.
She also garnered two near-misses at another pair of top amateur events with third (two shots back) at the Kathy Whitworth Invitational in Fort Worth, Texas and a runner-up (one back) at the Thunderbird Invitational in Scottsdale, Ariz. She returns out west next week at the prestigious Women’s Trans National Amateur in California that features top amateurs from around the globe.
A runner-up at last year’s U.S. Public Links Amateur earned her a spot in the recent Kraft Nabisco Championship, one of five majors on the LPGA Tour. She was tied for 17th after the first round before ending up tied for 48th at 2 over with, among others, the second-ranked woman in the world Yani Tseng.
“It’s all been a lot of fun, but sometimes my body says otherwise because it is tiring,” Ramsey said. “I’ve tried to take a little time here to just rest up because it has been a lot of golf and it is tiring on your body as well as your mind.
“It is a really good feeling winning tournaments mostly because it just shows all the hard work is paying off. I feel like if I would’ve gotten top-five in those events that would’ve been good, but every time you sign up for a tournament the goal is to win. I feel like I always expect to win and then to pull it off is a great feeling and it really helps my confidence going through the rest of the summer.”