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Lawrie positive as band of Scots prepare for Royal Liverpool links

The last time the Open Championship was held at Hoylake back in 2006, it seemed that Scottish golf had reached something of a nadir.

kicking on: Marc Warren is one of the Scots going into the Open on the back of some decent form . Picture: Colin Mearns
kicking on: Marc Warren is one of the Scots going into the Open on the back of some decent form . Picture: Colin Mearns

Paul Lawrie, Sandy Lyle, Colin Montgomerie and Scott Drummond were the only four home hopefuls in the field - and they all missed the cut.

The teeth gnashing and mutterings in the aftermath were inevitable but, in this cyclical game of fluctuating fortunes, things have improved a bit in the eight years since that low ebb.

Here at Hoylake this week, there will be an eight-strong Tartan Army venturing forth. It is a varied old bunch, from past Open champions such as Lawrie and Lyle to a Ryder Cup hopeful in Stephen Gallacher and an exciting teenage prospect in Bradley Neil, the new Amateur champion.

Throw in Marc Warren, who showed his abundant talents over the weekend in the Scottish Open, and there are reasons to be upbeat. Lawrie certainly thinks so.

"I have been saying for years that Marc Warren has as much talent as anyone," said the 1999 Open champion. "Whenever I get asked the question, 'who of the Scottish lads has the most talent?' I say Marc Warren. He and Stephen Gallacher have so much talent it is scary. And then you have Bradley Neil and another couple of young lads who have enough talent to kick on and win tournaments. From where we were in 2006 we have done a great job. Golf is like that, though. English golf went through a dip and then 18 months later they had four players in the world's top 20."

Lawrie may be toiling through the 2014 campaign but his rousing ­renaissance in 2012, which swept him all the way to the Ryder Cup, acted as a spur to the rest of his touring countrymen. "It doesn't take much to turn it around," he added. "Some of the guys like Stephen were encouraged to get out there and practise after seeing me kick on. I am the same after seeing Stephen progress in the last while. I have been hitting more balls and putting more in as I want to be back up there in the top 50 like he is. We all feed off each other."

Since he captured the Claret Jug at Carnoustie in 1999, Lawrie's best finish in is a share of 26th last year. The Open continues to stir all the senses, though. "I am 45 and still love going to the Open," he added. "I don't think anyone is any different. This is the week you want to play your best. But there is no point standing here saying you are going to win the Open next week as you will look like an absolute idiot. There are a few players who have done that over the years. But I am going there to try to win like everyone else; there is no point playing unless you do."

Lawrie has been grouped with fellow Open champions Justin Leonard and Ben Curtis for the opening two rounds while Gallacher has Hunter Mahan and Victor Dubuisson for company on Thursday and Friday. Neil will make his Open debut in a three-ball that includes two former Amateur champions in Matteo Manassero and Mikko Illonen.

Warren's match includes the impressive American, Peter Uihlein, while Scott Jamieson, who earned his Open place with a last-gasp rally in the Scottish Open, will be twiddling his thumbs until 4.06 when he tees off in the very last match of the day.

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