Warren leaps from Tour School to Dubai finale in three bounds

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Marc Warren of England tees off on the 2nd during his final round 66 at the Dunhill Links Championship.

Few European Tour players will have undergone the transformation that Marc Warren has in just three weeks – from facing a trip to Tour School, to instead probably heading for the money-spinning Race to Dubai finale.

He and wife Laura will undergo a further transformation with an increase in their family to four this morning, but in the meantime Archie’s Dad has gone a long way to securing his immediate future with a third top five finish in the Alfred Dunhill Championship in six years.

Three weeks ago, after a summer spent struggling with a shoulder rotator cuff tear, Warren was 173rd in the Race to Dubai and facing a career crossroads.

But then came his second place at the Portugal Masters, a tied 15th last week in the British Masters, and a weekend 67-66 on the Old Course – “my favourite course anywhere in the world” – got him a share of fourth in the Dunhill.

That means a triple jump catapulted him into the top 60, which could see him play all the way to Dubai.

“Top 100 would have been good three weeks ago,” he admitted. “Three solid results in a row and I’m very, very pleased.

“It’s much better to be looking forward than over your shoulder. It’s another positive week and I really love this event, it was nice to play with slightly less pressure this year than normal.

“It has been kind to me. But I love links golf and Carnoustie and the Old Course in particular. It’s nice to play a course you love but really great when you play well.”

For Warren, £420,000 of winnings in three weeks and what it means for his career status is obviously welcome but he’s most pleased with what a summer of struggles have meant to him.

“There’s a huge amount of golf still to play this year hopefully,” he said. “But I think the way I’ve handled this season has been most satisfying because it was such a tough middle of the season.

“I think I’ve surprised myself how patient I was playing these events. Even being on the fringes of contention a couple of times I wasn’t putting too much pressure on myself.

“If I keep that sort of attitude, even today was a tough back nine just hanging in there at times, then I’ll be okay.”

And there’s to be no stopping, with the birth of his second child today and then on to Italy for his tenth event in a row.

Stephen Gallacher didn’t get to the top 10 finish he needed to get into the Italian Open – a $7 million Rolex Series event this year – his horseshoed par putt at the 17th ultimately meaning he stayed in a share of 12th despite a finishing 67.

But he moved into the top 80 in the Race to Dubai with that finish which got him into the lucrative event.

“I was one or two shots shy of what I wanted,” he said ruefully. “I played an unbelievable chip over the bunker at 17 to about four feet but it hit it too hard, and that was pretty much did it.”

“I’m really happy with the way I’m playing but I’m just not getting the 63s that I’m giving myself chances to make,” he said. “It is just a patience game.

“I have one more shot of getting in the top 72 that gets into Turkey at Valderrama.”

David Drysdale had a rude awakening to his final round with a visit to the Swilcan Burn at the first and a doubnle-bogey six, but as has been his habit this year he fought back with a flurry of birdies, finishing with a three-under 69 to share 15th place.

And there was a hugely impressive professional debut by Dumfries’ Liam Johnston, playing on an invitation. The Scottish Amateur Strokeplay champion shot a final round 68 and was par or better for all four rounds, finishing in a tie for 47th.