MARC Warren, who’d slipped into the golfing wilderness just under two years ago, is back amongst the game’s elite after climbing into the world’s top 100 on the strength of a career-best display in a major.
In tying for 12th behind Jason Dufner in the USPGA Championship at Oak Hill, the 32-year-old jumped 13 places to 99th in the latest world rankings, joining three compatriots – Martin Laird, Paul Lawrie and Stephen Gallacher – in the top 100.
It’s been quite a turnaround for Warren, who was down in 573rd after the KLM Open in mid-September 2011, when he was mainly having to rely on invitations for European Tour events after losing his card at the end of the previous season.
Finding himself back on the Challenge Tour, where he’d won twice before graduating to the main circuit and repeating the feat there, was hard to stomach for the man who joined forces with Colin Montgomerie to record Scotland’s first World Cup win at Mission Hills in China in 2007.
But, confident he was working on the right things with coach Peter Cowan after a much-publicised split with Bob Torrance, Warren never lost faith in his own ability and used the Dunhill Links Championship two years ago as the springboard to turn his career around. The Glaswegian finished joint-fifth at St Andrews to regain his playing privileges last season, finished 55th in the Race to Dubai and, lying 18th after picking up a cheque for just under £90,000 at Oak Hill, has jumped above both Gallacher (19th) and Scott Jamieson (22nd) on that list this year.
“This is just another step in the right direction,” admitted Warren as he reflected on bouncing back from an opening 74 with splendid sub-par efforts of 67, 68 and 69. “A good finish in a major is something I’ve not done before and to finish one, especially the USPGA, with three rounds in the 60s is very pleasing. I felt really comfortable and confident with everything I was doing. The last three days felt very stress-free, which is unusual on a golf course as though as this.”
Having just missed out on the top-ten spot that would have earned him a start in this week’s Wyndham Championship on the PGA Tour, Warren’s next outing will be on home soil in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, where he claimed victory in2007.
Next week’s event is the last chance candidates for the 2014 Ryder Cup at the Perthshire venue will get for a competitive outing on the PGA Centenary Course before the match against the Americans and Warren will be amongst those players looking to lay down a marker in European captain Paul McGinley’s thick dossier.
The qualifying race to earn automatic selection for the Irishman’s team starts the week after next in the Wales Open at Celtic Manor, where the Scot will also be aiming to make his presence felt by continuing to show he’s been unaffected by seeing three winning positions slip from his grasp over the past 13 months. Sky Sports’ Mark Roe, for one, thinks Warren’s confidence has been dented by those disappointments, but, by the looks of things, the Scot has the talent and determination to prove him wrong.