Marc Warren secures his first major appearance

wHILE Colin Montgomerie’s 900-mile drive went unre- warded, a change of heart overnight paid dividends for Marc Warren as he secured a first-ever major appearance in the US Open in a fortnight’s time.

After nine attempts to qualify for The Open and three for the US Open, the 31-year-old will finally step on to one of golf’s biggest stages thanks to him sharing top spot in yesterday’s 36-hole qualifier at Walton Heath in Surrey.

Warren, a World Cup winner with Monty in 2007, needed something special after an opening 70 on the Old Course and produced it with a seven-under 65 on the shorter New. He finished alongside Sweden’s Alexander Noren on nine-under to claim one of the 11 spots up for grabs and will now fly the Saltire along with Martin Laird in the season’s second major at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

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Yet, when Warren left Wentworth on Sunday after finishing 27th in the BMW PGA Championship he hinted that he might give the Walton Heath event a miss as he was worried about becoming burn out. He was talked round, though, by his wife Laura, caddie Gary Edwards and fellow Tour player Gareth Maybin.

“We were sitting in a pub just down the road last night having a couple of drinks and it was the combination of Laura, Gary and Gareth who talked me round,” said a delighted Warren. “After four hard days at Wentworth, the last thing I thought I needed was another two rounds of golf.

“But they all said to just go and give it a rip and that if I didn’t play well in the first round, I could always pick the ball up in the second. It just goes to show how fickle this game is, because when I decided to tee-up I actually felt good about my chances of qualifying.”

A year ago, Warren was playing on the Challenge Tour after losing his card for the main circuit before regaining his place at the top table for the start of this season. “Now I’m heading to the US Open and my first-ever major and I’m still pinching myself,” he added.

While there was joy for Warren, the other five Scots in the Walton Health field all came up short. Montgomerie (68, 72) and Stephen Gallacher (67, 73) both missed a play-off by two shots, while Richie Ramsay, Scott Jamieson and George Murray all withdrew after first rounds of 80, 76 and 72 respectively.

In addition to Warren and Noren, the others to qualify were Lee Slattery, Soren Kjeldsen, George Coetzee, Mikko Ilonen, Gregory Bourdy, Matteo Manassero, Matthew Baldwin, Raphael Jacquelin and Peter Lawrie.