July 19 2013
Martin Laird has won three times on the PGA TOUR.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
GULLANE, Scotland -- If Friday was Martin Laird's bad ball-striking round and he still managed to shoot even par, then the Scotsman feels pretty good about his chances entering the weekend of The Open Championship.
"I don't think scores are going anywhere this afternoon with this east wind," he said. "I think the course plays harder with the east wind, and those greens are going to get faster."
Laird had an up and down round of 71 on Friday that included three bogeys and a birdie in his first seven holes followed by a string of four straight birdies that moved him to 3 under through the tournament. The three-time PGA TOUR champion couldn't quite coax that number home but he'll start the third round in red numbers at 141.
He wasn't too disappointed with the finish, either. Laird managed a good bogey at the 17th when his tee shot plugged under the lip of a fairway bunker and he holed clutch 6-footer there, then he ot up and down from the greenside bunker at No. 18 to finish on a positive note.
"Overall I didn't really play that well today," Laird said. "So shooting even par shows my game is in a good spot, because I really didn't hit a good golf shot until the seventh or eighth hole today. I struggled coming out. I had a nice little hot stretch there in the middle and I held it together coming in."
While Laird wasn't happy with his iron play, his putter held him in good stead. He said the green speed was noticably different in Friday morning -- he left a 20-footer 5 feet short at the second hole -- but noted it had started to quicken as the round progressed.
"It wasn't like a foot slower; it was two or three feet slower," he said. "But I think they had to do that, otherwise by this afternoon they'd be unplayable. The greens are fantastic. The whole course is fantastic. They're fast, but they're absolutely perfect."
Laird is the highest-placed Scot on the leaderboard but he said he didn't feel any extra pressure.
"I think it will help me more than hurt me," Laird said. "I probably have higher expectations for myself than everyone in the crowd. It's not something I'm really worried about. You can only look at it as something that can help up you. They can pull you along.
"Even as I was struggling, you hear people shouting "come on!" and giving you support, and that's only a good thing."