Marc Warren no longer feels as though he “doesn’t have the tools to go into war” - and it’s certainly starting to show in his performances.
A bogey-free second-round 67 in the British Masters ensured the 36-year-old comfortably made it to the weekend at Close House, where he’ll be joined by five compatriots.
With a lot of bodies between himself and leader Tyrrell Hatton, it’s going to take two low ones for Warren to get in the mix for the second week running after his runner-up finish in Portugal last Sunday.
He’s on course, though, to take another step towards hanging on to his European Tour card and that’s enough on its own to give him encouragement heading towards the end of the season.
After being largely injury-free for most of his career, the three-time winner has suffered a wretched campaign since tearing a rotator cuff in his right shoulder.
He couldn’t lift his arm above shoulder height for a spell and even found it painful any time he tried to pick up his young son, Archie.
“The first diagnosis I got was that it was a Hills-Sachs lesion and a grade 2 tear of my rotator cuff and that would have meant surgery then three months off,” revealed Warren.
“I got other opinions and then went with a cortisone injection instead. After getting that, it was better for two or two-and-a-half weeks but, day by day, it was back to being as bad as it was at the start.”
The former World Cup winner only started to play pain-free again after discovering that instead of trying to protect his shoulder, he needed to be working it to build it up strength-wise.
“A second cortisone injection I had was in a slightly different place and I also ended up having to get a cortisone injection in my thumb around the same time as it was seizing up after I’d hit 60 balls,” he added. “From not relatively having an injury in my whole career it all seemed to be happening at once.
“The fact I was told I had to work my shoulder was a big thing mentally as I’d felt until then that rest was going to be the only cure. That made it easier for me to go out and practice.
“I felt I was battling with my game in the height of the summer as my swing felt technically poor and that was probably down to the fact I didn’t have the tools to go to war, as they say. It is good to be coming through the other side now with no niggles or pain.”
Warren climbed to 100th spot in the Race to Dubai on the back of his strong display in Portugal and that’s the cut-off mark this season for cards. Alternatively, he can hang on to his playing privileges by finishing in the top 10 on the new Access List and he’s also on course to do that.
“It is good that I have the shoulder problem cleared up now,” he admitted. “The first tournament I played pain-free since Dubai was the Paul Lawrie Match Play.
“I played really well that week, even though I lost in the first round to Rocky (Robert Rock) and I’ve felt since then that I’ve been showing good signs and shooting a lot of good scores.
“Having a run of big tournaments is perfect time to be doing that and, having taken a lot from how I played in Holland in pretty tough conditions, I was feel going going into Portugal on a course I’d played well on before. I played really well there, especially on Sunday.”
While keen to back up another couple of days of good work here, Warren already has one eye on next week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Chanpionship - and who can really blame him?
He’s done well in that event in the past, after all, with two top-five finishes, including last year to earn a massive pay-day.
“I love the Dunhill and a good weekend here would hopefully set up another good week next week,” he said, smiling.
“I didn’t look at Race to Dubai position when I was struggling with my shoulder because I knew there was no point. I was just trying to convince myself if I played well in this run of tournaments, which will be 10 in a row by the end of it, I could turn things around in that respect.
“To be honest, I was prepared for every possible scenario and that included entering the Tour School. Stuart Cage, my manager, said to me, ‘I know it’s not nice, but you’ve got to enter just in case’. I said that was fine. I didn’t fill the forms in, though. Thankfully, someone else did that for me.”