Scotland’s Martin Laird is relishing the prospect of home support over the weekend after remaining high on the leaderboard in the 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield.
Laird added a 71 to his opening 70 to finish one under par and well on course for his best performance in the event after three missed cuts in succession from 2009 and a tie for 72nd at Lytham 12 months ago.
“I think it will help me more than hurt me,” the 30-year-old from Glasgow said. “I probably have higher expectations for myself than everyone in the crowd. It’s not something I’m really worried about.
“You can only look at it as something that can help you. They can pull you along. Even as I was struggling, you hear people shouting ‘Come on’ and giving you support, and that’s only a good thing.”
Laird could have been even higher up the leaderboard if not for dropped shots at the 14th and 17th, the three-time PGA Tour winner going to the turn in 37 with a birdie at the ninth and then adding three more in a row from the 10th.
“Overall I didn’t really play that well today,” admitted Laird, who carded a final round of 63 to win the Valero Texas Open earlier this year, just edging out world number two Rory McIlroy in San Antonio.
“So shooting even par shows my game is in a good spot, because I really didn’t hit a good golf shot until the seventh or eighth hole today. I struggled coming out. I had a nice little hot stretch there in the middle and I held it together coming in.”
Tournament officials admitted they had used “a bit more” water on the greens overnight following complaints about the conditions yesterday, but Laird revealed a change in wind direction still meant a tricky finish.
“Everyone thinks 14 and 15 downwind is going to be easy,” he added. “I think it’s harder right now because you can hardly hit the greens. 16 and 17 is a tough finish. The last four or five holes are really hard.
“The greens were noticeably different. At number two I had about 20 feet and left it four or five feet short. It wasn’t like a foot slower, it was two or three feet slower. But I think they had to do that, otherwise by this afternoon they’d be unplayable.”