TALK about a hang on. Three years ago, in the players’ lounge at Gullane, Marc Warren just about twiddled his thumbs into calloused stumps as he wandered around waiting to see if his final-round flourish would leave him in the shake up for the Scottish Open title. It very nearly did. While the sublime Rickie Fowler eventually took the honours, it was almost a case of very good things come to those who wait for Warren. And he waited all right.

For four hours, the Scot was still in the hunt for his national Open title after a late charge that could have been performed on horseback. His six-under round was completed 40 minutes before the leading group had even teed-off but, in the end, his barge up the order left him just two shots shy of the triumphant Fowler.

Warren will be back at Gullane again this week as the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open, with one of the strongest fields the event as assembled, returns to this delightful neck of the golfing woods.

There has not been a lot for Warren to write home about in the Scottish Open over the past couple of years. He missed the cut last season and was down among the rank and file the year before. His fourth at Gullane in 2015, though, burnished a record which also includes a third in 2014, when he led going into the final day at Royal Aberdeen, and an agonising near miss in 2012. Of course, that particular loss at Castle Stuart remains stuck in the minds as if seared on with a branding iron. Warren squandered a three shot lead over the closing four holes and slithered off the top of the leaderboard. His crippling double-bogey on the 15th prompted a dramatic shift in momentum just when it looked like he had established a sturdy redoubt at the top. You live and learn in this game.

“If I put myself in that situation now I think I would react completely differently to what happened on the 15th,” said Warren, whose various wins on the Challenge Tour and the European had been come-from-behind pursuits. Being the hunted instead of the hunter is a different proposition. “It’s all about age and maturity,” he added. “Mentally I wasn’t ready and didn’t have the experience to deal with something like that because I’d never faced it before. Any win I’d had was coming from behind, chasing, making birdies to get in a play-off and win that way.

“So actually having the lead and having to close it out was something I’d never experienced. Making mistakes and learning how to deal with that down the stretch is something you have to learn. And I know now that I put far too much pressure on myself.

“A year or two later I had the lead again in Denmark and I managed to see that one home and that was all down to the experience I gained at Castle Stuart.

“That was a positive from it, but having come so close winning the Scottish Open - which is a fifth Major for me - one day I would love to put that right.”

In its prized and much sought after spot the week before The Open, the lure of the links continues to be strong. No wonder Rory McIlroy publicly floated the idea of moving the Irish Open he hosts to this slot in 2019 when The Open heads to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951. Those involved with the Scottish Open, meanwhile, remain so steadfastly, and rightly, protective of the slot on the schedule they have just about put an armed guard and a security cordon round the date in the diary. Fowler, Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson, Tommy Fleetwood, Patrick Reed, Henrik Stenson, Rafa Cabrera-Bello … You name them, they will all be there.

For Rose, the Scottish Open winner in Aberdeen four years ago, there is a sense of going back to where it all started. His return to East Lothian may not be one overflowing with fond memories, yet it is a place where decisive decisions were forged. It was 1998 and the teenage Rose had eased his way into the knockout stages of the Amateur Championship after negotiating his way through two rounds of strokeplay qualifying at Gullane and Muirfield. By the end of the first day of matchplay, though, Rose was out.

“Not doing well at the Amateur Championship that year was actually the catalyst for me turning professional,” said Rose. “I’d done well in the strokeplay qualifying but losing in the first round was frustrating. The dream for every amateur is to win that. It opens up so many doors with The Open and the Masters. So to lose in the first round left me a bit disillusioned. I didn’t want to wait around another year to try to win the Amateur and get into those events that way.”

A few weeks later, Rose turned professional. The rest, as they say, is history.