MARC Warren and Stephen Gallacher both continued to give a good account of themselves in the 143rd Open Championship on Merseyside. Late in the day, Warren came in with a splendid 68 to sit joint-ninth at the halfway stage on five-under. Gallacher is just three shots back in a share of 19th after a 72.
For both the Scots, however, it turned into a day that was tinged with sadness as they came off the Hoylake course to learn that Bob Torrance had died at the age of 82. Both were among the many players who have worked with the Largs-based coach – including twice Open champion Padraig Harrington – and both enjoyed success with him.
“It’s a sad day for golf,” admitted Warren, who was benefiting from Torrance’s incredible knowledge of the golf swing when he recorded his two European Tour wins, including the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in 2007. “A legend has passed away.
“He changed my career massively. Still to this day, and for the rest of my career, his words of wisdom will stay with me.
“When I first started seeing Bob it was 2002 and three months later I’d won twice on the Challenge Tour.
“I was rookie of the year and I won the World Cup. I might not be playing at this level if it wasn’t for him.
“I can’t speak highly enough of him and his knowledge of the golf swing. He would give everything he had to make you the best player you could be. I’ll be forever in his debt for that.”
Gallacher first linked up with Torrance when he was in the Scotland squad as an amateur. He worked with him for more than 20 years and cherished every bit of advice he was offered by Torrance’s gruff voice over the years.
“Everything I know about the game is probably through Bob,” said the Lothians man. “The first time I met him was down at Inverclyde and the snow was hitting the back of the bay. He was such a positive guy and I loved working with him.
“I went down to see him two or three weeks ago and it was sad to see him then. I really feel for June (his wife), (son) Sam and the rest of the family.
“I’ve got millions of stories about him. He was larger than life. He was always positive and funny, too. He would teach you for as long as you wanted to be there – even if it was in the dark.”
Out in level-par 35, Warren came home in a superb 33 as he continued the good form that earned him third spot behind Justin Rose in the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen last Sunday.
“I played really well today,” said the 33-year-old. “I was a bit disappointed with my finish yesterday so I was determined to have a really strong finish today. I did that.
“I’m really, really pleased. I hit a great drive off 18 and the wind was really kind to me. It might have been Bob helping me out.”
Having finished 12th in last season’s USPGA Championship, Warren is confident he won’t be fazed as he finds himself in one of the last groups in today’s re-jigged third round. “It sets up a really exciting weekend,” he added. “The USPGA was massive for me. That gave me a taste of being in the last few groups and I’ll use that experience this weekend.
“Last week at the Scottish Open will help as well. This week hasn’t just come out of the blue. It’s been a progression.”
A shot ahead of his compatriot at the start of the day, Gallacher moved to four-under following birdies at the first and fifth. He then dropped three shots between the seventh and 15th before moving in the right way again with a birdie at the 16th.
“It was tough out there today, even though it was a different wind,” said the world No 33. “It was blowing across the course all day and didn’t really die down that much. The greens were getting firmer but we definitely got the better half of the draw.”
Despite their good work over the opening two days, Warren trails Rory McIlroy by seven while Gallacher is ten adrift. “There’s nothing you can do when he plays like that – we have seen it before,” observed Gallacher of the leader’s masterclass so far.
From an eight-strong starting contingent, Warren, Gallacher and Jamie McLeary are the only Scots still standing. On his Open debut, Paul McKechnie fell agonisingly short as a battling 71 for three-over left him just one outside the cut mark.
Paul Lawrie, the 1999 winner, started and finished with 6s - the first of them a double-bogey. “I played much better today, though,” reported the Aberdonian, who is walking the East of Scotland Way next week for charity before playing in the British Par-3 Championship the following week.