ONE of David Law’s first competitive rounds on the Old Course well over a decade ago ended with him signing for a jaw-shuddering 85. Back in yonder days of yesteryear, that kind of score would’ve been good enough to set the Open heather on fire. Tom Kidd, for instance, won the first Claret Jug to be presented in St Andrews in 1873 with a 91 and an 88.

It’s a different ba’ game these days, of course. Thankfully, Law’s Old Course experience this week has been much more fulfilling than that sobering St Andrews Links Trophy outing as an amateur back in 2009. “The 85 was memorable I suppose, but for all the wrong reasons,” he chuckled.

A three-under 69 around the ancient links in round two of the 150th showpiece yesterday saw the Open and major championship debutant comfortably progress to the weekend on a three-under aggregate.

A trio of birdies on his last six holes, a run kick-started by a raking putt on the 13th, hoisted the Scot up the order. It’s been something of a step into the unknown for Law this week, but the 31-year-old is taking it in his stride.

“I’m not here just to soak it all in, I want to compete,” he said. “But you have to enjoy it. You wouldn’t be a golf lover if you didn’t enjoy it. But the pressure is intense, either from lots of people watching or the pressure you put on yourself. The support has been great. I’ve never played an event of this magnitude before so it’s a bit surreal hearing the crowds shout my name on tees and coming off greens.”

The quirks, curiosities and downright absurdities of links golf would almost have Job himself snapping a shaft over his thigh in a flummoxed lather but patience has been key for Law this week. “These two rounds have been two of the most patient rounds I’ve ever played,” said Law, who earned his place in the St Andrews field by finishing fourth in the Irish Open recently. “I tend not to make too many mistakes and this test suits me. That’s what major golf is about I suppose. It’s the guys who make the least mistakes who do well.”

Law’s progress provided a great sense of satisfaction for his mentor, Paul Lawrie. The 1999 Open champion may have missed the cut on seven-over after a 77 but the 53-year-old was delighted for his fellow Aberdonian. “First Open, first major, big field, it’s got to be huge for him,” said Lawrie. “I think he’s really close to going to that next level. I don't see why he can't and hopefully this week will do him a lot of good.”

The sun is setting on Lawrie’s own Open career. He’s still exempt until he reaches 60 but the former Ryder Cup player is not one to clutter up a field as a ceremonial player. Will he play another Open then? “Right now, no,” he said. “I always said I wouldn't ever take a spot if I didn't feel as though I could play okay and play four rounds. I'll see how I feel next year whether I play or not.”

After some late evening nail-nibbling, Robert MacIntyre made it through to the weekend on the level-par limit after a 74. The battleplan for the last two rounds is now clear. “It’s all guns blazing, no hanging back,” said the 25-year-old who made the cut on the mark in The Open a year ago and ended up finishing in the top-10. "I'm a fair bit back but I know the golf I can play.”