The US Open has often been the kind of attritional trudge that should be accompanied by trenches and military battleplans.

Martin Laird’s first taste of this gruelling golfing combat came in 2007 when he made his debut in the American showpiece at an Oakmont course that was so brutal, players just about had to take to the tee with fixed bayonets.

As a raw recruit to the exacting, unforgiving rigours of major championship golf – it was his first appearance in any of golf’s big four events – it was perhaps unsurprising that Laird missed the cut. Angel Cabrera won with a five-over tally and only eight sub-par rounds were recorded all week. It was quite the baptism.

“It was the hardest course I've ever played,” reflected Laird, who will make his seventh US Open appearance this coming week as the third men’s major of the season takes place at Torrey Pines in San Diego. “It was mega-thick rough and was basically a one shot penalty if you hit it in it. I just remember it being brutally hard with the fastest greens I had ever seen. It was golf at its extreme and the reason five-over was the winning score. I was absolutely ecstatic at qualifying as getting to my first major was a big deal but it was too tough to really enjoy the actual rounds.”

Fourteen years on, Laird is longer in the tooth and he is a four-time winner on the PGA Tour. He had to come through a pre-qualifier earlier this week to secure his first US Open tee-time since 2017 and the Glasgow is exile is relishing his third major start of 2021. This will be the 24th grand slam event of his career. The 38-year-old’s best finish remains a share of 20th at The Masters back in 2011 and it is a record that Laird is keen to improve on.

“I wouldn't give myself the best grade overall for majors but feel like I'm definitely better equipped for them now,” he said. “My overall game is more complete. Mentally I am way stronger than my earlier days and a lot more patient, which is critical with tough set ups. I think I used to put too much emphasis on the majors and build them up too much. They really are just another golf tournament, just on harder courses with tough set ups. I know what I need to do to be ready now.”

Laird showed flashes of what he could achieve in last month’s US PGA Championship at a tough Kiawah Island, where he briefly led the field coming to the last few holes of his opening round. The Scot eventually finished the championship in a share of 23rd. Those wretched putting woes, a curse that has afflicted the Scots since the days of Old Tom Morris, hindered Laird’s progress but there was enough positive stuff to cling to. “The PGA could have been a really good week for me if I had putted half decently,” he reflected. “The big thing I took from that week was that tee to green I played good enough to contend and I felt totally comfortable on an extremely tough set-up. I felt in control for all four days and wasn’t concerned by the fact it was a major. I’m a lot better now at only focusing on what I can do at majors and letting all the other distractions pass me by.”

Laird’s compatriot, Robert MacIntyre, will be the only other Scot at Torrey Pines. This will be his second US Open and a sixth major appearance in total. The Oban left-hander has yet to miss a cut and was sixth in The Open and 12th at The Masters. “Even though I’ve had good finishes, I feel I’ve not challenged in one yet,” he said. “But I’ve played in only five so I have to take it slowly.”

In this game of great longevity, MacIntyre’s fellow lefty, Phil Mickelson, demonstrated that time can be very much on your side. He became the oldest player to win a major with his thrilling US PGA triumph at the age of 50 last month. In his home city of San Diego, he’ll be striving to complete the career grand slam, having been runner-up in the US Open six times. He couldn’t could he? “It would be cool,” said MacIntyre. “But it will be so difficult.”

In more ways than one. That’s the US Open for you.