Martin Laird quietly confident of US Open success

By Phil GoodladBBC Scotland at the US Open

Whisper it. A Scottish golfer is confident of doing well in a major.

How long is it since we've said that? But ahead of the US Open getting under way here at the Congressional Country Club near Washington DC we can now dare to mutter thoughts on such a prospect.

Martin Laird is ready for what could be the biggest week of his life.

"I'm coming into the event with a lot of confidence as I've been playing well," he said.

"I expect to play well this week and if I do I don't see why I can't be up there on Sunday with a chance."

The thoroughly likeable 28-year-old doesn't just give away lines to make good headlines.

The Arizona-based Scot knows a number of factors are coming together at just the right time that could see him make a bid for a first major. The most important is his form.

This season is already his best to date. Six top-10 finishes have given notice of his intent to compete at the business end of tournaments.

His win at Bay Hill in the Arnold Palmer Invitational was his second PGA Tour win and has helped him earn more than $2.3million this year.

"To have the King [Palmer] present the trophy to me was something very special," he added.

"I knew I could win an event like that. It just gives you confidence to win more."

The following week, back-to-back rounds of 69 at Augusta , his best placing in a major.

Another positive for Laird this week is how the course has been set up.

Congressional stands as one of the longest venues in US Open history. It suits a big hitter who can drive it straight with plenty of air. That is Laird's style. At 299 yards, he has one of the longest drive averages in the game.

While others will fear the 523-yard par 4 18th, Laird will relish the challenge.

The Glaswegian's personality also acts in his favour. Having spent some time with him this week I'm struck by Laird's laid-back approach in and around the course.

Now, of course, that was during practice days - a far cry from the intense pressure generated by playing in a major.

But Laird now has experience of that after being paired with Tiger Woods on the Sunday at Augusta.

And while it's terribly stereotypical to mention weather when discussing Scottish golf, Laird's ability to handle the potentially searing American heat could give him an edge.

Last week it was 102 degrees here. Playing 72 holes over four days in that takes its toll if you're not used to it.

Congressional last hosted the US Open in 1997 - when Colin Montgomerie lost to Ernie Els by one shot.

Modesty prevents Martin Laird from saying he could go one better than his fellow countryman this time around but a number of factors point to him having a very good week.

No wonder he says he's confident. No wonder people are beginning to whisper.

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