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Bar raised for Scotland's Open flag fliers

MARC Warren and Stephen Gallacher, tied for 12th and 19th place respectively ahead of the final round of The Open this afternoon, each have an excellent chance of earning substantial pay cheques with decent finishes.

But neither man was content with his position on the leaderboard at Hoylake after 54 holes.

It said much about the high level the Scottish professionals feel they should now be competing at that, despite performing better than many of their more celebrated counterparts, neither was entirely satisfied.

Gallacher is challenging strongly for a place in Europe's team to face the United States in the Ryder Cup at ­Gleneagles in September as a result of some fine displays this season. The two-under-par 70 he compiled yesterday put him on a four-under-par cumulative total of 212 alongside Brandon Grace, Byeong-Hun An and David Howell.

The Bathgate golfer, currently 11th in both the European and world points lists, is handily positioned to strengthen his bid to be selected automatically for Paul McGinley's side.

However, the 39-year-old wasn't exactly thrilled with his form on the Wirral peninsula over the last three days. "It was nothing special," he said of his third round. "I didn't play very well so I'll take it. I got out of it what I could."

Gallacher added: "I have struggled all week to be honest, I haven't played that great. But when you are playing a course like this and you are under par and in the top 25 it's not bad. I will try to kick on and shoot a low score in the final round."

The Scot did not share the horror of those who were aghast at the introduction of a two-tee start for the first time in the history of The Open in order to avoid the storm forecast for yesterday afternoon.

"It was what was called for," he said. "It was going to be a bad afternoon so it was a good call. Anybody who says otherwise is clutching at straws. It saves us going into Monday."

Warren is one shot ahead of his friend and compatriot on five under par after countering three bogeys with three birdies and carding a level-par 72 yesterday.

Yet, being tied for 12th place at a Major event is nothing new for the Glasgow player; that was where he finished on his debut in the US PGA Championship at Oak Hill last season. "I felt really comfortable out there," Warren said. "Finishing 12th at the PGA last year was obviously really pleasing.

"It was the first time I have been in that situation and I finished strongly. I kind of used that experience a little bit today. I felt entirely comfortable the whole day. I am looking forward to more of the same tomorrow, but, hopefully, I will play just a wee bit better golf.

"To come off the course after shooting level par and just feel OK, no more, about how I played and how I putted is pleasing. It shows my game is in a good place. I just need to tighten it up tomorrow, hole a few more putts and sign off with a good score."

Gallacher and Warren were both taught by Bob Torrance earlier in their careers and were visibly upset when they learned the legendary Scottish coach had passed away on Friday night.

The black ribbons the competitors wore on their caps yesterday as a tribute to the coach from Largs had special resonance for both of them. "I was glad I could pay my respects to Bob," Gallacher said.

Warren added: "It showed how much he meant to people."

Jamie McLeary from Peterhead, the only other Scot left in the field, had a triple bogey at the fifth and a double bogey at the 18th in a three-over-par 75 that left him on five over for the tournament.

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