RANGERS fan Marc Warren is hoping home advantage and a passionate support can propel him to Open glory at Royal Troon this week.
The 35-year old takes to the tee in Ayrshire at 14.37 tomorrow as he aims to become the first Scottish winner of golf’s most prestigious prize since 1999, and having kept pace with the world’s best in the early stages of last year’s event at St Andrews, he is aiming to push on even further this year.
And, as he was at the ‘Home of Golf’ last year, Warren can expect to be backed by a huge local following which is sure to include plenty of fellow ‘Gers fans.
Speaking at Ibrox Stadium this week as he took part in the ‘Callaway at Rangers’ event, Warren explained: “Hopefully I can have a good week. I can stay at home as it’s only 30 minutes for me to get down to Royal Troon, so it’s like a home event and it will be nice at night to get away from it all and relax a little bit.
“Once we get down and it all kicks off on Thursday, it will be tournament head on and hopefully I can have a good, solid week. I’m really looking forward to it and it’s a tournament I’ve been looking forward to all year.
“I qualified at the end of last year off the back of the ‘Race to Dubai’ so hopefully I can get a good result at the end of the week.
“I was out in the second-last group in the third round last year and played with Paul Lawrie there, and we had great support with massive crowds following us, and it’s nice to know you are capable of getting yourself into that situation.
“I didn’t quite finish as high as I would have liked to, but hopefully if I can get myself into that situation this weekend, I can finish a lot better.”
Warren excelled in some of the toughest conditions ever seen at an Open Championship in the early rounds of last year’s event, sitting on -7 and well in contention going into day three.
The forecast for this year’s event on the Clyde Coast also looks to be unsettled, and the Cambuslang man hopes he’ll be able to adapt better to whatever nature throws at the field.
He continued: “At the Scottish Open last week, the weather was a little bit rough at times, and this week, it looks as if it will be similar – quite windy and quite wet, but being from Scotland that’s not too much of a hardship while most of the guys travelling from abroad may find it a little more difficult.
“Hopefully that works to my advantage and I can have a good week.”
As part of Callaway’s Ibrox event on Monday evening, Warren was paired with ‘Gers legend John Brown for a unique ‘football meets golf event’ where teams comprising one Callaway golf professional and a Rangers player firstly competed in a nearest the pin tournament where they drove balls from the directors’ box to the centre circle before taking two penalties each on the hallowed turf.
Playing at Ibrox was a dream come true for Warren, and, despite missing both spot kicks, he thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
He added: “I wish I had practiced a little more beforehand! But it was an incredible experience to walk down the tunnel with ‘Simply the Best’ playing out. It was a really special moment for me.
“There are a few big Rangers fans on the Tour, and we follow the club every week among ourselves and talk about the games and the results all the time. I was a season ticket holder for three or four years when I was younger, but I was playing too much golf at the weekends so I couldn’t justify still having it at that time.
“Fortunately, I have a few friends in the club and I manage to get tickets through them these days, and the team are playing a style of football everyone loves to see and I’m looking forward to the new season kicking off.
“I bought a season ticket when we went down to the Third Division a few years ago and came along to as many games as I could. It’s been a long, hard road for everyone for the last few years, and there has been a lot of change, but we’re all going into this season with high expectations and high hopes.
“We have the right man in place with the manager and have brought in some good signings too, so I think everyone has the right to be excited.”