MARC Warren, the 2007 winner, is aiming to use this week’s Johnnie Walker Championship to continue his climb up the world rankings and also make a Sky Sports commentator choke on his own words.
Two years after slipping to 573rd in the global standings, Warren has returned to Gleneagles this week having just broken into the top 100 thanks to a top-12 finish in the US PGA Championship at Oak Hill just under a fortnight ago.
Feeling that a raft of changes he made in a bid to become a more rounded player have been vindicated, the former European Tour Rookie of the Year is back riding on the crest of a wave and confident of adding to a brace of individual victories on the circuit. “To finish 12th in a major is really satisfying because it shows that, on the back of things I’m working on, my game is getting better and I was able to handle the pressure of playing on such a demanding golf course,” said the 32-year-old.
“I changed everything – my coach, management team and clubs – purely because I felt I could be doing better than I was. When I lost my card [at the end of 2010], it was disappointing and tough at the time, but it gave me that extra impetus and extra kick up the backside.
“I think the Dunhill Links in 2011 [when he tied for fifth at St Andrews] was a massive turning point as it helped me regain my card and, since then, it’s just been a case of steady improvement.”
While that has undoubtedly been the case, Warren is aware that a member of the Sky Sports team, believed to be Mark Roe, has been questioning whether the Scot is strong enough mentally to be a winner again. That follows his late collapse in last year’s Scottish Open at Castle Stuart and two subsequent missed opportunities this season – in the Spanish Open and BMW PGA Championship.
“I know who it was and what he said,” remarked Warren, undoubtedly a more mature individual these days, when asked about the claim he’d been left “mentally scarred” by any of those events. “I don’t think that is the case and I’m certainly not someone that wouldn’t take on a shot because I had failed in the past. I know I have what it takes to win and I won’t back down under pressure.
“I’ve put myself in a position to win bigger tournaments than I’ve ever done and, if I can maintain my consistency, I would say a win is going to be inevitable.”
Two of Warren’s compatriots, Stephen Gallacher and Richie Ramsay, will decide this morning whether they are fit enough to play in the first round due to back and neck injuries respectively. Gallacher, who sustained his untimely injury washing a car, rates his chances as “40-60 against”.
“It was really bad on Monday,” said the Dubai Desert Classic champion. “So much so that I couldn’t even bend down to tie my laces. It felt a bit better yesterday and I was hoping there would have been more improvement today but that’s not been the case.”