Marc Warren relishing American test

HE IS Scottish to the core but there’s definitely something in the American air that helps bring out the best in Marc Warren.

Marc Warren of Scotland hits a tee shot during a practice round prior to the start of the 96th PGA Championship at Valhalla. Picture: Getty
Marc Warren of Scotland hits a tee shot during a practice round prior to the start of the 96th PGA Championship at Valhalla. Picture: Getty

In his amateur days, the Rutherglen man holed the winning putt for a Great Britain & Ireland team – it also included Graeme McDowell and Luke Donald – in the 2001 Walker Cup at Sea Island, Georgia.

As a professional, his best performance so far in a major also came on American soil, having tied for 12th behind Jason Dufner in last year’s US PGA Championship at Oak Hill.

That effort earned Warren an exemption for this week’s event at Valhalla, where it didn’t need it to be pointed out to the 33-year-old that his track record Stateside is pretty decent.

“So far in my career the chances to play in America have been few and far between,” he told The Scotsman. “But, when I have done, I feel as though I’ve played okay. I’m excited to be back 
because I feel the courses suit my game a little bit.”

Warren, who recovered from an opening 74 to shoot three rounds in the 60s a year ago in the season’s final major, also believes he revels in the atmosphere at American events.

“As a kid, I used to enjoy watching the PGA Tour at night and I love it over here,” he added. “Sport is such a big thing in America and even on Monday it felt like a tournament day due to the fact there were so many spectators around.

“They go for it in a big way here. For whatever reason, they take it on board more than we seem to do and I enjoy the whole experience over here.”

After a low-key opening half to his season, Warren has burst into life, having finished third in the Scottish Open then making his presence felt at the Open Championship for three rounds before falling away to joint-39th after a last-day 76.

“It’s another massive event coming back off two big other big ones and I’m really looking forward to it,” said the two-times European winner, who has made the trip along with his wife, Laura, and their son, Archie.

“I felt I took an awful lot from my recent run of events, having timed it perfectly to play well in both the Scottish Open and The Open. I didn’t have the weekend I was hoping for in the latter, but there were still a lot of positives.

“On the Saturday at Hoylake, I shot level par to keep myself in a decent position but on the Sunday I felt as though I didn’t putt quite as well – that was the only difference really.

“Having said that, it was a bit scrappy over the weekend compared to the Thursday and especially the Friday, when I felt really in control of everything I was doing.

“I was 12th going into Sunday, having felt I’d got the bad round out of the way, and so I was excited about the last round. It was my first taste of being in that position in The Open, but I was in that situation in this event last year and ended up with a better finish.”

In his practice rounds, Warren has played with Stephen Gallacher and believes it’s a course that could suit the Europeans, even though the 2008 Ryder Cup here saw the Americans come out on top.

“There’s a few more run-offs around the greens as opposed to going straight into heavy rough if you miss the green,” noted Warren. “That gives you the chance to use a few different skills around the green and that may suit more of a European style of play.”