HE ENDED up on the losing team on A Question of Sport but Marc Warren is hoping he can now come up with the right answers in his bid to secure a Masters debut next month.
Warren appeared on the BBC’s cult programme recently but admitted he couldn’t bear to watch himself alongside Matt Dawson, one of the team captains, and Welsh rugby player Jonathan Edwards.
“The only bit I’ve seen is when I walked on – I couldn’t watch anymore as it was bizarre,” he said of finding himself on a show he watched as a kid, up against Phil Tufnell and his team of Olympic swimming gold medallist Rebecca Adlington and Martyn Williams, another Welsh rugby international.
“I don’t have a problem watching myself playing golf on TV, but being on Question of Sport or going to the airport and seeing myself staring out on the magazine stands (he’s on the front cover of the current issue of Bunkered) is definitely weird.”
Warren’s profile has been raised for good reason. Helped by recording his third European Tour triumph last August and then making a solid start to his 2015 campaign, the 33-year-old is close to joining compatriot Stephen Gallacher in the world’s top 50. He was actually there a month ago, having climbed to 48th after the “Desert Swing”, but is currently 54th. The drop was mainly due to the points Warren gained for his runner-up finish in the 2013 BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth falling off.
Thankfully, no damage was done in terms of him getting into the WGC-Cadillac Championship, which gets underway today on the Blue Monster and Donald Trump’s Doral resort in Miami. It’s Warren’s debut in the event and the stakes are high.
The Glaswegian needs to be in the top 50 in those global standings at the end of the month to secure a Masters invitation. This could be his last throw of the dice, though he is aiming to play in Monday qualifiers to get into some of the regular PGA Tour events between now and the season’s opening major.
“A lot of the talk is about Augusta and once you get close to the top 50, as I am, that is only natural,” said Warren. “But for me the main goal was getting into Doral. If I wasn’t playing here the chances are that I wouldn’t be at Augusta. I had to be teeing it up this week to give myself an opportunity to make The Masters.”
Aiming to join Gallacher as well as former winner Sandy Lyle and amateur Bradley Neil in making the drive up Magnolia Lane, Warren is “ready to go” in an event featuring a full house of the world’s elite, with the top 50 all playing. He is determined, though, not to put himself under any extra pressure. “Augusta would be a great thing to achieve but, if I fail, there are loads of other things to look forward to this season,” he added.
“It will still be there next year and the year after, so it doesn’t necessarily have to be this year. In the position I’m in it would be quite easy to become impatient and start pushing things, but I’d like to think I’ve got enough experience under my belt now to realise that patience at this moment in time is important.”
He can certainly take heart from boasting a good track record in America, having finished in the top 15 two years running in the US PGA Championship, which he’s exempt for again this season as well as the Open Championship at St Andrews through being in the top 30 in the 2014 Race to Dubai.
“I think the events in the States, especially the way they set up the course for the US PGA, suits my style of play,” he said. “You need to hit it quite high and have good carry distance on courses that are generally quite long. You also need to be quite aggressive at times around the greens and I like that. The greens are normally fast and really good and generally I feel putting is one of the strongest parts of my game. I feel as though I can get my eye in on good greens and hole some putts.”
Gallacher, who finished sixth behind American Patrick Reed in this event 12 months ago, is aiming to make his presence felt again, as is Rory McIlroy as the world No 1 bids to bounce back from his first missed cut since the 2013 Open Championship.
Based on world rankings rather than FedEx Cup standings, there is no place in the 74-man field for either Padraig Harrington or Russell Knox.