THEY traded blows and even shared painkillers. In the end, it took a wonder shot by Marc Warren to finally shake off Tyrrell Hatton and keep the Scottish flag flying in the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play at Murcar Links. Shortly after Richie Ramsay had bowed out in the quarter-finals to Robert Karlsson following the Swede chipping in at the 17th hole, Warren, the second seed, found himself heading into extra time when his English opponent did likewise at the last for a birdie 3.
Earlier, Hatton had holed from 100 yards at the first to start their match with a birdie, but on the second visit it was Warren who found the pinpoint accuracy by sending a lob wedge into the hole after just one bounce from 59 yards.
It set up a semi-final this morning with Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat – Karlsson faces a former Ryder Cup team-mate, David Howell, in the other half of the draw – and also rounded off a great day’s work for Warren. He had secured a debut appearance in this week’s WGC Bridgestone Invitational at Akron by making it into the last eight as a result of breaking into the world’s top 50 when the rankings are updated tomorrow. “That is one of the most bizarre matches I’ve ever been involved in,” admitted Warren, who was three down early on then two up with three to play. “It had a bit of everything – some good golf, some terrible golf, some holed shots and lost balls. With Tyrrell having holed from 100 yards at the first and also had two chip-ins, I guess it was my turn to hole one at the 19th.”
After his morning win over Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, the 34-year-old felt a stiffness in his back and needed medical treatment at the side of the sixth green after kick-starting his fightback against Hatton with an eight-foot birdie putt. “The physio worked his magic,” said the Scot. “He could feel straight away that there was a blockage, thoracic spine it’s called. There was a lot of cracking going on but I instantly felt as though I was a little bit freer. I also took a painkiller on the seventh tee – Tyrrell took one as he was suffering from back trouble as well – and I was pretty pain-free after that.”
Warren said he was up against a “quality player” in Aphibarnrat, who delivered proof of that as he brought Michael Hoey’s impressive progress to a halt with a 2&1 win over the Northern Irishman. As for securing a WGC warm-up for the US PGA Championship, the final major of the season, at Whistling Straits, the Scot admitted: “That was a goal this week and it’s nice to achieve it.”
Ramsay’s goal of landing a European Tour triumph in his home city was still alive until Karlsson holed from 30 feet for a birdie-2 at the 16th to get his nose in front then maintained that advantage by chipping in for a half from a similar distance at the next. “I didn’t play my best but I would say he won it, I didn’t give it away,” said Ramsay, who was unable to keep the match alive by repeating his hole-winning birdie at the last from earlier in the day against Dane Morten Orum Madsen.
“I was inside him both times at the 16th and 17th and walk off with halfs. That’s little things that turn games a bit. I’m not really too bothered to be honest about losing. I know that sounds funny and I would have loved it to carry on, but when things like that happen I can’t control what he’s doing, I can only control what I’m doing.”
Ramsay is notoriously hard on himself but makes no excuses for always striving to get better.
“I still feel like I’m not reaching the potential, which is frustrating,” he added “I’m not getting to where I feel I should be I’ve probably got to sit down and analyse it a bit. It just comes down to confidence.”
Karlsson, a former European No 1, had missed six cuts coming into this event. “A couple of weeks ago I thought I would be better to go home to Charlotte and practise,” he admitted. “But match-play frees you up a little bit more. It’s more of a mental game where you have to stay in the moment and that’s actually helped me this week.”
Having ended Chris Doak’s run in the morning, Howell recovered from two down after four holes to beat fellow Englishman Chris Wood 5&4. In addition to being Ryder Cup team-mates in 2006, Howell, 40, and Karlsson, 45, also share the honour of being Dunhill Links winners.