PAUL Lawrie’s current purple patch, which has seen him chalk up a seventh title triumph, record four top-10 finishes for the first time in his career and burst back into the world’s top 50, will have a positive effect from the grass-roots up to the top of the tree in Scottish golf, according to one of his former Ryder Cup team-mates.
Andrew Coltart, who was also in the European team when Aberdonian Lawrie made his one and only appearance to date in the event at Brookline in 1999, may be working for Sky TV these days as part of the team that covers the PGA Tour in America, but he is well aware of the waves his fellow Scot has been making on this side of the Atlantic.
As was the case with his broadcasting colleagues covering last week’s Qatar Masters, Coltart watched in admiration as Lawrie produced a final-day masterclass to win the event for a second time and is backing the prediction made by Bernard Gallacher, the three-time Ryder Cup captain, in yesterday’s Scotsman that the 43-year-old can use his flying start to the season as a springboard to make the European team for this year’s match at Medinah. Equally encouraging for Coltart, though, is the fact he believes Lawrie’s recent resurgence will prove inspirational for a host of Scottish golfers, from his fellow European Tour players all the way down the ladder to those being introduced to the game for the first time in the build up to the 2014 Ryder Cup.
“The Scottish players on Tour all occasionally play together, so it’s a natural assumption that what Paul is doing at the moment can rub off on the rest of the guys. They’ll be saying: ‘If he can do it so can I.’ So it will definitely be spurring them on,” said Coltart, himself a Qatar winner in 1998.
“In addition to that, just imagine what influence he’s having at the moment on the kids, the ones, for instance, who are part of the Paul Lawrie Foundation. He’s put a tremendous amount of work into that, a lot of which few folk actually know about, and what he is doing at the moment is truly inspirational. He’s continuing to lay down markers by winning at the ripe old age of 43 – the oldest to claim a victory on the European Tour since Miguel Angel Jimenez a couple of years ago – and that is tremendous from a Scottish golf perspective.”
David Law and Philip McLean are among the players who’ve benefitted from having Lawrie as their mentor in recent years and Coltart, who has been enlisted by the Scottish Golf Union to take on a similar role at national level since deciding to retire from competitive golf, is hoping the floodgates are about to open in that respect. “It’s amazing what Paul is doing at the moment and it’s so important that up-and-coming players learn from the likes of Paul because we want to see them contending for majors, not just fighting to keep their cards.”
Lawrie probably won’t have that worry for the rest of his career, having not just earned another exemption after his latest win but also climbing to 27th on the European Tour’s career money-list with winnings of around £8.2million.
“It will be interesting to find out exactly what has brought on this resurgence,” observed Coltart, who these days is based in Aberlady, close to Archerfield Links, where he is involved in TPEGS, an exciting new coaching venture. “For a while he wasn’t playing the way he’d like but then he had the win in Andalucia and that brought on a terrific end to last season and similar start to this season, with his victory in Qatar providing a fitting reward. The Ryder Cup is very achieveable for Paul, especially now that he’s in the top 50 in the world. In getting into the majors and WGC events, he’ll be able to pick up big world ranking points and lots of money.
“In Dubai at the end of last season, he showed that he can mix it with the best and he did it again in Qatar. In terms of quality and ability there’s no doubt that he can play in another Ryder Cup, it just depends on if he can sustain his position in the top 50.”
While there was not even the hint of a crack in Lawrie’s game on Sunday, he was overcome with emotion when asked during his post-round interview about Adam Hunter, his long-time coach and friend who died last October. Coltart reckoned that was not surprising. “Paul still has a bond with Adam,” he said, “and I’m sure he’d have been looking down at the weekend and saying, ‘job well done’.”