SCOTLAND will have its biggest Open Championship representation for nearly a decade at Muirfield next week after the home contingent rose to ten yesterday following spots being secured by Marc Warren, Martin Laird and Stephen Gallacher.
It will be the first time since 2005 that the Scottish tally has reached double figures, with the trio joining former champions Sandy Lyle and Paul Lawrie as well as Richie Ramsay, Scott Jamieson, George Murray, Lloyd Saltman and amateur Grant Forrest. Pipped by Warren by just £754 for an exemption following the French Open on Sunday, Gallacher had been named as first reserve by the R&A just after lunchtime yesterday but didn’t have to wait long to be handed a sixth appearance in the world’s oldest major.
Around tea time, the Dubai Desert Classic champion had been added to the field for event’s 142nd staging after John Daly, the 1995 winner, announced his withdrawal due to elbow surgery the American is due to undergo later this week.
Warren secured his debut in the R&A’s flagship event as one of ten players handed ‘form’ exemptions through the European Tour’s Race to Dubai and the FedEx Cup on the PGA Tour.
Also heading for East Lothian via the Race to Dubai are South African Richard Sterne, Australian Brett Rumford, Finn Mikko Ilonen and Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn, while the five spots from the FedEx Cup standings have gone to an all-American quintet of former Ryder Cup player Boo Weekley, Billy Horschel, Jimmy Walker, Russell Henley and Harris English. As predicted in The Scotsman last Thursday, Laird has also earned a spot in the East Lothian extravaganza as one of the eight highest-ranked non-exempt players in the latest world golf rankings published yesterday.
Swedish duo Jonas Blixt and Fredrik Jacobsen, Australian Marc Leishman, Canada’s Graham DeLaet, American pair Kyle Stanley and Ken Duke and England’s Chris Wood are the others to earn berths that way, leaving only two more spots to be filled.