The Open: Rough justice for Martin Laird

Martin Laird's nine at the third hole dumped him from being one of the front runners back into the pack. Picture: Jane Barlow

Martin Laird's nine at the third hole dumped him from being one of the front runners back into the pack. Picture: Jane Barlow

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FOR two days Martin Laird had worked like a demon to get himself in the hunt in the Open Championship – and in a few destructive moments he took himself out of it.

Laird imploded with a grotesque nine at the par-4 third hole. The Scot went from one shot off the lead at 2-under to 3-over in one ugly and gob-smacking swoop.

He finished with an 81, his misery complete when he was penalised a shot for touching his ball in the rough to identify it without telling his playing partner, Dustin Johnson. Laird said he called out to Johnson but that Johnson may not have heard him.

On that fateful third, Laird pushed his tee shot into a lie so bad he could hardly see his ball. From there, he had a shank into deadsville, took a penalty shot for an unplayable lie, retreated out of the jungle to play his approach to the green only to dump his next shot into the wild again. He took a hack at it but couldn’t shift it, then took another unplayable drop, a catastrophe that added up to nine and the kind of look on his face that you can only see in the movies when somebody has seen a ghost.

“When you’re in this rough there’s nothing you can do,” said Laird. “I tried to hit it out of thick rough and then I took a drop. I got a bad lie and from there it was one of those things. When I walking up the 16th I was told I had a one-shot penalty from the tenth and that pretty much deflated me.” Laird started the day on 1-under and finished on 9-over. Cruel.

Paul Lawrie was back in Aberdeen walking Bobo, his West Highland Terrier, when he realised he’d made the cut. Richie Ramsay was at home in Edinburgh checking his phone every half hour and praying. The two Scots had abandoned all hope of making the weekend after finishing their second round on 8-over par, but there they were yesterday, Lawrie breaking par by a shot, Ramsey missing par by a shot.

Both of them were borderline staggered to be here. “I didn’t think that 7-over had any chance, not to mind 8-over,” said Lawrie. “So we packed up [at Greywalls hotel, where he is staying] and went home. I got to walk the dog and have a bite to eat and I came back on Friday night about 11.15pm and shot 70. I don’t think I’ve ever had to do that before. Thankfully, it’s just up the road. I can’t believe nobody went home, overseas, on 8-over. That’s incredible, really. You just couldn’t see it when I came off the course [on Friday]. Six-over was 79th or 80th when I came off. How is 8-over gonna get in? It just shows you how tough the course is.”

The texts started coming when Lawrie was out with Bobo, who didn’t go along for the ride when his master zipped back down the motorway on Friday night and checked back into his hotel. “The good thing is that you pay for your room for seven nights whether you use it or not.”

Lawrie shot 81 on Thursday, so it’s a minor miracle he was out there yesterday. He described his first round as terrible and horrible and the worst he has played in a long time. Friday’s 69 was a whole lot better – or beautiful and magnificent, as he called it. “I just went back to a rhythm and didn’t get too technical and my third round was the same as my second round. Just played beautiful.”

Ramsay, who was fit to gouge out his own eyeballs when missing the cut at Castle Stuart last week, is a different animal now. “If I hung around Muirfield on Friday [waiting to hear if he had made the cut] then it would have been torture. I got lucky. I got very lucky.”

Fellow Scot Stephen Gallacher dropped six shots in his last six holes for a 76 for 9-over. Sandy Lyle, who had played so well to make the cut, found it savagely difficult and shot 80 for 15-over.

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