LEADER Chris Doak will have eight of his compatriots for company over the weekend and all of them can still become home heroes, according to Martin Laird.
“You can win from five back with one round to go, so with two rounds to go you are definitely right in the mix,” said the three-times PGA Tour winner of his position at the halfway stage.
Paul Lawrie also made it, but only just. He’d have been heading home early to Aberdeen for the second year running, but for holing a six-foot birdie putt at the last.
While that one dropped, far too many are missing for Lawrie’s liking. He thought it was bad enough on the greens last year; now he’s really starting to tear his hair out.
“This year’s been really bad,” he groaned in frustration. “I’ve got a little loop that’s appeared in my stroke and it’s hard to get the ball started on line. I’m working really hard to get back to that, but it’s just taking a bit of time.”
In Craig Lee’s case, he has picked the perfect time to return to form after three successive missed cuts, the middle of which led to him finishing in last place in the Irish Open following an 85 in his second round at Carton House. “It’s always great to play at home,” said the Stirling man after trimming 16 shots off that effort to sit alongside Laird on seven-under. “There were a few spectators that I know and it’s always nice to see a friendly face.”
A brace of 69s took Scott Henry safely through on six-under, one ahead of Marc Warren, who was dragged along in Henrik Stenson’s slipstream as he kept alive his hopes of making amends for last year’s disappointment as he squandered a three-shot lead with four holes to play. “I’m in a decent position and now I want to do something similar to what I did last year by having a really good Saturday to get myself in contention for Sunday,” he said.
“One really good round would make a huge difference and watching Henrik made it look pretty easy today. That shows if you play well enough and hole a few putts you can go pretty low around here.”
Also on five-under, David Drysdale is through to the weekend for the 17th time in 22 events – a praiseworthy achievement at a time when the European Tour has such strength in depth – while Gary Orr and Greig Hutcheon also just made it alongside Lawrie on four-under.
Relieved to still be in the event, Lawrie added: “I’d have been gutted to miss the cut. You don’t want to go home. You want to play two more rounds. You want to get some sort of feeling with the putter before you go to The Open.”
For three other players heading for Muirfield – Stephen Gallacher, Scott Jamieson, Richie Ramsay and Sandy Lyle – their race has been run in the Highlands.
“I putted terrible for two days,” declared Gallacher after missing out by one. “Yesterday I should have shot six, seven or eight-under and that would have killed it. It was trickier today and I never holed one putt to get me going.”
Having secured his spot in East Lothian at the start of the week as first reserve and not seeing anyone else come off that list thus far, he was still smiling, albeit through gritted teeth. “I would rather be here for the weekend, but I suppose extra time to practise for Muirfield is the silver lining,” he added.