PAUL Lawrie has been true to his word. He said he was prepared to risk his Ryder Cup chances to roar Aberdeen to success in the League Cup final at Celtic Park, and yesterday he explained why.
The 1999 Open champion decided that supporting the Dons in their bid for silverware was more important than chasing qualification points in Morocco this week, and it doesn’t appear to have been a decision he agonised over.
A lifelong Aberdeen fan, he was a key member of the European team which pulled off the “Miracle of Medinah” to retain the trophy two years ago. Lawrie won three points for Jose Maria Olazabal’s team including the 5 & 3 destruction of Brandt Snedeker in the singles. However, he is currently outside the world top 50 and struggling to make Paul McGinley’s side for October’s event at Gleneagles.
Despite that, Lawrie insists it was the right decision to miss the Trophee Hassan II in Agadir to be with wife Marian, sons Craig and Michael and 40,000 other Dons fans in Glasgow.
The last Scot to win one of golf’s majors couldn’t bear to miss the chance of watching his team pick up silverware for the first time since four years prior to his own career high.
He said: “I love my football. I go to Pittodrie and away games as much as I can so it was a pretty easy decision to make. I’ve never played in Morocco before but it just so happens that it fitted into my schedule this year because I’m not in the top 50 and not in the world golf events. So I would have gone this year but, as soon as your team gets in the final, that knocks that on the head.
“There’s a whole generation of Aberdeen fans who have never seen the club lift the trophy or play in a final. I’m old enough that I have but I’m looking forward to it, there’s eight of us going down, myself and my wife and my two boys and friends of ours. Certainly my two boys are pretty excited and they are really looking forward to going down on Sunday – perhaps more than me because they’ve never seen Aberdeen at this stage.
“It’s not just my boys who I’d love to see us win a trophy. You can see with the number of tickets we’ve sold that there are people there who want to take theirs along. And, if the team keep doing what they’re doing, they will keep coming, there’s no question about that. People want to be associated with success. If their team is not producing it on the pitch, they won’t go so much.
“I would support them no matter what league they are in or how good or bad they were, but young people probably need them to be doing a little better to keep them coming back.”
Lawrie could be faced with another test of his priorities in May if Aberdeen progress to the Scottish Cup final as well.
It certainly wouldn’t surprise him as he is convinced manager Derek McInnes is in the process of building a side capable of sustained success after too many years of underachievement.
Lawrie added: “It’s not just about the League Cup final. I think things have been getting better for a long time. The final is the end product of 18 months of the team getting a lot better. All the fans have seen that.
“Aberdeen the city needs its football team to be doing well. It’s a huge part of it. The place is better when the team is doing well as it means a lot to a lot of people. We need the football club to keep kicking on and I think they will. We’ve brought in some good players and the management team have made a massive difference to what’s going on.”
One area where Lawrie will limit the crossover between the sports is when it comes to investing money in the football club. He does all he can to support Aberdeen but his main focus remains on helping young golfers through the Paul Lawrie Foundation as even an Open winner has his financial limits.
He said: “It comes up when I’m doing well, winning tournaments and making a bit of money. You’ll get ‘oh, how come he’s not putting money in?’ I did an interview with Jim White from Sky years ago when he asked me the question about buying the club. So I said ‘well if I win the next 12 tournaments in a row, Jim, I’ll definitely buy the club.’ Then he just managed to miss out the 12 tournaments in a row bit and put out on Sky that I was buying the club!
“So that caused me a bit of grief. I’m a huge fan of the club, I’ve got season tickets and we help them out a bit giving them golf merchandise to sell in the club shop – so I think we do our bit. As for putting money into the club, I wish I could afford to but I can’t at the moment.
“I think if you are going to get involved in that you’ve got to have a lot of money to make it better or people just don’t see you making that much of a difference. I don’t have enough to make them that much better so my involvement will stay the way it is for a long time.
“Stewart Milne is a classic example of how you just can’t win when you invest in a football club. I’m sure he has put in a lot of money and there’s times when he doesn’t get the credit he deserves for doing what he’s doing because people don’t see it. And he’s got far more money than I’ve got so, if he can’t make it much better, then I’m not going to make a difference.”