DCSIMG

The Open: Rollercoaster leaves Martin Laird on solid ground

  • by MARTIN DEMPSTER
 

MARTIN Laird’s day resembled The Big One, the rollercoaster along the road in Blackpool. It included lows – notably a double-bogey 6 at the third – and highs, such as an eagle-3 at the seventh and a holed bunker shot at the last for a birdie.

“It was a nice way to finish,” he admitted after signing for a level-par 70. “It was a pretty average day all around – I drove it average, hit my irons average, putted average – so I’m pretty happy with 70 given I didn’t play that well.”

The damage at the third was caused by finding a bush; the repair job at the seventh followed a splendid 2-iron from 270 yards to eight feet.

“After that I played a little better, but it wasn’t great,” he added.

The 29-year-old likened the windless day to his Open debut at Turnberry three years ago. “I double bogeyed 16 and 17 [then] and came in at four-over,” he recalled. “Today it could have been the same but I got in at level and holing that bunker shot was a huge boost.

“This golf course is still tough in no wind – there’s so many bunkers and rough everywhere. But today if you got it in play you could attack. I’m not surprised the scoring is good.”

Playing in one of the final groups, Richie Ramsay reached the turn in 34, two-under, but dropped three shots coming home. He was delighted, though, to have salvaged a par at the 15th after becoming involved in a lengthy rules debate.

After eventually getting relief, he then produced a chip to five feet and holed the par putt.

“The railings were about four and a half feet high, and I was only five yards back from them,” said the Aberdonian. “You don’t really practise those shots –
I don’t have railings like that at home.

“But when I was younger I would hit through tree branches at the field across the road from me. So I supposed I called on that to help me out.”

Sandy Lyle and Steven O’Hara both had 74s, two less than
Elliot Saltman, the sixth Scot in the 156-strong field.

Poor putting saw Lyle, the 1985 champion, make an early exit in the Scottish Open and it was his Achilles’ heel once again.

“Getting to the greens isn’t a problem; it’s once I’m on them,” said the 52-year-old.

“I had 36 putts out there – after two rounds with 35 putts at Castle Stuart.” Asked what putter he was using at the moment, Lyle at least showed a sense of humour.

“It’s called a Black Swan, but it’s a bit of an ugly duckling for me just now,” he replied.

O’Hara, playing in the event for the first time, missed a good birdie opportunity at the first before compounding that with dropped shots at the next two holes. His card also included a triple-bogey 7 at the 15th.

“I made some terrible decisions off tees,” confessed the Motherwell man.

“I don’t know what I was trying to do. My gameplan was to keep out of the bunkers and I seemed to just take out the club that seemed to bring all the bunkers into play.”

Saltman also let three shots slip in one go, running up his 7 at the tenth, but had his spirits boosted by a last-hole birdie.

“A couple of loose tee shots put me in the thick stuff,” said the Archerfield Links player, who earned his place in the field as a qualifier for the second time in four years. “But finishing with a 3, especially in front of a big crowd, was nice and it will keep me going for tomorrow.”

 

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