Martin Laird fires birdie blitz to be third Scot in US Open

Martin Laird hits out of a bunker during the third round of the Memorial tournament in Ohio at the weekend. Picture: Darron Cummings/AP
Martin Laird hits out of a bunker during the third round of the Memorial tournament in Ohio at the weekend. Picture: Darron Cummings/AP
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Three Scots will be teeing up in next week’s 117th US Open after Martin Laird joined 
Russell Knox and Richie Ramsay in the field at Erin Hills in Wisconsin.

Laird secured his spot in the season’s second major by coming through a sectional qualifier – one of ten being held on the same day – in Ohio. The 34-year-old carded matching 67s at Brookside Golf & Country Club and The Lakes Golf & Country Club for a 10-under-par total.

That left him in a tie for fourth with 2009 Open champion Stewart Cink, former US PGA champion Keegan Bradley and 2007 Walker Cup player Jamie Lovemark in a battle for 14 spots.

Laird, a three-time PGA Tour winner, effectively secured what will be his sixth US Open appearance by storming to the turn in 31, five-under, in his second round.

“This morning I hit the ball really nicely and it felt like five-under could have been really good,” he said. “I didn’t miss a green, which I don’t think I’ve done in a while.

“It was pretty windy here [The Lakes] but shooting five under on my front nine meant I was taking less risks on the back nine as I knew 10 under was probably pretty good and I’m happy to get in.”

Just over a week ago, Knox, who has an exemption, was the sole Scot in next week’s field before Ramsay came through the European sectional qualifier at Walton Heath.

Two other Scots, Dornoch man Jimmy Gunn and James Ross from Edinburgh, missed out in the 36-hole shootouts.

Gunn, who qualified for the event at Chambers Bay two years ago, fell a shot short 
of getting into a play-off in Memphis after rounds of 69 and 67 for a six-under total.

At the same venue, Royal Burgess flag-bearer Ross finished on three under following scores of 68 and 71.

Wisconsin man Steve Stricker finished first there, securing a spot in an event being played for the first time in his home state after being denied an special exemption by the USGA.

“It means a lot,” he said after posting rounds of 67 and 65 for a 10-under total. “Not getting an exemption was a motivational factor. Not that I deserved one, but it’s been driving me to achieve this goal. And I’m just happy that I’m going to get to play. It’s a relief to get to play in the first one in my home state.”

Eleven amateurs progressed from the various venues, including Stewart Hagestad, who was the low amateur at the Masters earlier this year.

Former world No 1 Luke Donald failed in his bid, as did two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen.