Duncan Stewart’s link up with new coach paying off

Duncan Stewart tees off  during day two of the AAM Scottish Open. Picture: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Duncan Stewart tees off during day two of the AAM Scottish Open. Picture: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
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Hugh Marr, the Scottish coach who helped Thorbjorn Olesen land two big European Tour victories, is now steering Duncan Stewart towards the top 100 in this season’s Race to Dubai. The pair linked up earlier in the year and Stewart is starting to reap the rewards of his work on the range with the England-based coach.

Having picked up around £55,000 for a share of 20th spot in the Irish Open, the 33-year-old has his sights on another big pay-day this weekend after comfortably making the cut in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.

“I played well last week,” said Stewart, who closed with a 65 at Portstewart and has now opened with rounds of 71 and 70 at Dundonald Links to sit joint-20th at the halfway stage. “I changed a few things with my coach, Hugh Marr. I was stupid enough to try to fade it for the last six months and, though it was going okay, it didn’t feel comfortable on the course. He thought I looked more natural drawing the ball, so we went back to that last week and I have been driving the ball well.”

Working with Marr, Dane Olesen won the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in 2015 before adding the Turkish Airlines Open, a Final Series event, towards the end of last year. “We have hit it off straight away,” said Stewart, who looked after his own swing until he also turned to Marr. “He says it how it is and that is what I like. Some days he will say it is garbage and some days he will say it is good. I am very happy with how it is going.”

A shot in front of Stewart, Stephen Gallacher heads the home challenge at the halfway stage, the pair both trying to secure spots in next week’s Open Championship, with three Royal Birkdale berths up for grabs here to the leading non-exempt players inside the top 10. Gallacher was watched by one of the biggest galleries of the day – the second-round attendance was 12,732 – as he backed up his opening 68 with a solid 72.

“I’ve got a big family,” joked the 42-year-old. “No, it’s just the beauty of playing in front of your home country, isn’t it? You get a chance to play in front of all your pals and family, supporters. Hopefully over the weekend us Scots can give us something to cheer about.”

The only other man still flying the Saltire out of a 12-strong starting contingent is Richie Ramsay after Russell Knox, Marc Warren and Jack Doherty all suffered the agony of missing out by a shot as the cut, having gone up and down all afternoon, fell at one-under, with 65 exactly players surviving.

It was a bit of a struggle for Ramsay in his 74, which dropped him back to a couple under, but he is now looking to replicate last weekend’s strong finish in Ireland, where he closed with rounds of 67 and 65 to tie for second behind Jon Rahm. “It was not easy, but I’m in for the weekend and hopefully I can push on,” he said.

With bad weather forecast, play in the third round will start at 6.50am so it can get finished for 4pm.