The Open: Ten-strong Tartan Army set to tee off

Paul Lawrie shakes hands with Sergio Garcia during practice at Muirfield yesterday. Picture: Jane Barlow
Paul Lawrie shakes hands with Sergio Garcia during practice at Muirfield yesterday. Picture: Jane Barlow
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WITH ten Scots in the field – ten-and-a-half if you include Gareth Wright, a Welshman who has lived in Edinburgh for close to 17 years – the biggest Tartan Army in this event for eight years is heading into battle today.

For the likes of former winners Sandy Lyle and Paul Lawrie, it’s a block they’ve been round many times now, the former making his 37th appearance and the latter returning to the venue where he made his debut in 1992.

Others, such as Martin Laird, Stephen Gallacher, Richie Ramsay and Lloyd Saltman, have all teed it up in the R&A’s flagship event more than once but the remaining quartet are still very much wet behind the ears on this stage.

Marc Warren, George Murray and amateur Grant Forrest are all making their debuts in the event while Scott Jamieson is aiming to enjoy this appearance more than he did two years ago, when he was in that same position.

“It was a mad rush to get down there on time and the head was still spinning from the good week at Castle Stuart,” recalled the 29-year-old of securing a last-minute spot through the Scottish Open.

“This time I’ve had a month to get ready for it mentally, which should be a good thing.”

Winner of the Nelson Mandela Championship in December, Jamieson had carded a brace of 75s at Royal St George’s to miss the cut.

“It was the Open Championship, so I would never say it was miserable,” he added. “But the weather conditions weren’t great and I didn’t feel like it had the atmosphere that I’d imagined from when I was a kid about what a first Open would be.

“You’re holding up the brolly in the driving wind and rain on the first tee, your name gets announced and you can’t even hear the applause. I think it will be a lot different this week. Not only is it in Scotland, but the forecast is good as well.”

Both Jamieson and Murray, who won the Scottish Amateur Championship at neighbouring Gullane in 2004, played one of their practice rounds earlier this week in the company of 2009 Open champion Stewart Cink.

“It came out of the blue,” explained Murray, who shot a course-record 64 at North Berwick just over a fortnight ago en route to securing his berth. “Me, Scott and Richie [Ramsay] were down to play together and he asked if he could join us. He’s a laid-back, chilled-out boy. He didn’t miss a shot in nine holes. He looked absolutely brilliant.

“Growing up, it’s every young golfer’s dream to play the Open,” added the smiling Fifer. “I’m here and I want to enjoy it.”