Former champion Paul Lawrie today shrugged off a 300-mile round trip to card a third round of 70 in the Open Championship at Muirfield.
Lawrie drove home to Aberdeen yesterday afternoon as he was convinced rounds of 81 and 69 would not be enough to make the halfway cut on eight over par.
But with the fast conditions and some questionable pin positions sending scores soaring, the 44-year-old found out on Friday evening that he had made the weekend without a shot to spare.
“I didn’t think seven over had a chance, never mind eight, so I went home,” the 1999 winner explained. “I don’t think I’ve ever done that before in my career and thankfully I was just up the road.
“I can’t believe no-one from overseas went home at eight over. It just shows how tough the course is.”
Lawrie, who was walking his dog when his son Craig texted to say the cut had drifted out to eight over, made the two-and-a-half-hour drive back to the course, arriving around 11:20pm.
“The good thing is you pay for your room (at Greywalls next to the course) for seven nights whether you use them or not so I had no problem getting my room,” Lawrie added.
As for his performance after a round containing five birdies and four bogeys, he said: “The first day I just played terrible. I hit so many poor shots on a course set up as tough as this that you are not going to shoot anything else than what I shot.
“On Friday I played beautifully and today was the same, I just struggled a bit with the putter.”
Lawrie’s 70 was not the lowest score of the day so far however, Shingo Katayama and Richard Sterne recording rounds of 69 and 68 respectively in the first group out at 8:10am.
“I found it obviously a lot better today,” Sterne said. “The greens were more receptive and the flag positions were a lot more accessible.
“It was going to get unplayable, if they didn’t do anything about it. I’m glad they did otherwise I think it would have turned into a real disaster, to be honest.
“The greens were a little slower and more receptive, so they’ve definitely done a lot of watering there. There’s a couple of tricky ones (pin positions) if you miss them in the wrong position. But 15 is fine today. Yesterday was a bit of a joke, to be honest.”
Only nine players had reached halfway under par, with Miguel Angel Jimenez holding the lead on three under par as the 49-year-old looked to become the oldest ever winner of a major championship just seven months after breaking his leg in a skiing accident.
The Rioja-loving Spaniard – surely a perfect winner of the Claret Jug – was only one shot ahead of the chasing pack however, with playing partner Henrik Stenson, England’s Lee Westwood, world number one Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson two under.
Scotland’s Martin Laird, Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello and former Masters champions Zach Johnson and Angel Cabrera were another shot adrift.
Darren Clarke had declined to speak to waiting reporters after a second-round 71 which contained an eight on the sixth where he took three shots to escape a greenside bunker, but the 2011 champion was only four off the pace alongside Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter and Adam Scott.