THEY’RE there in force. And, on the evidence of the first round, they’re not just there to make up the numbers, either.
All six of Scotland’s representatives – the joint-third highest in the elite field – broke par on day one of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
With a six-under-par 66, Marc Warren led in the clubhouse for a chunk of the day until Luke Donald bettered that effort in the fourth-last group.
The Scot’s flying start will see him go out today in the final pairing with Donald, who also has Richie Ramsay, Scott Jamieson and Stephen Gallacher breathing down his neck.
Ramsay, who is bidding to break into the world’s top 50 on Sunday night and put himself in a position to secure a Masters invitation at the end of next month, opened with a 67, one fewer than both Jamieson and Gallacher, while Paul Lawrie and David Drysdale, the two other members of the Tartan Army this week, both signed for 71s.
Warren marked his debut in the European Tour’s end-of-season hurrah with an opening birdie before adding six more, his sole blemish being a bogey at the par-3 13th. The 31-year-old suffered a major disappointment as he squandered a winning position in this year’s Scottish Open at Castle Stuart but, a year after finding himself battling to hang on to his card, he is happy to be back amongst European golf’s elite this week.
“After securing my full status again at the end of last year, my first goal was to try and qualify for this, so being here is a reward for the hard work I’ve put in over the last few years,” said Warren.
Ramsay made his encouraging start without the services of regular caddie Mark Crane, who is at his girlfriend’s side instead this week as she prepares to give birth. Chris Rice, who normally works for David Horsey, is filling in and the duo clicked straight away. “Dave Horsey and I hit the ball a similar distance, so that makes it good for clubbing,” said Ramsay, the world No 56.
Jamieson just squeezed into the field after surviving a nervous few hours last Sunday as he waited for both the Hong Kong Open and South Africa Open to finish. “It was excruciating,” admitted the East Kilbride man after improving on his first round in the former by 17 shots. “(After that) it was good to get out of the blocks with a good one,” added Jamieson.
Matching his effort, Gallacher was five-under after ten before dropping his only shot of the day at the 12th, while Drysdale also saw the birdies dry up coming home after he’d gone out in 33, three-under.
Lawrie, second in the £6 million event last year, got off to a horrible start as he four-putted the first for a double-bogey. The Ryder Cup player repaired that damage straight away with back-to-back birdies but, along with playing partner and Medinah team-mate Graeme McDowell, he “putted poorly”.