OF all the places, Paul Lawrie didn’t want to see his good run of form come to an end on Scottish soil. The world No 31 arrived at Castle Stuart eyeing the title but, instead, saw his challenge ended prematurely after missing the cut.
It’s only the second time in 15 starts this season that Lawrie won’t be banking a pay cheque and he’ll have to wait and see what damage has been done in terms of his position in the race to make the European team for the Ryder Cup later in the year.
However, the Aberdonian was encouraged by his driving display in a three-under-par 69 – four shots better than the first round – and, with some time on his hands to work on it over the next couple of days, he’s confident his putting will be a lot better in time for next week’s Open Championship at Royal Lytham. “It’s a pity as you want to put up a decent show in your home tournament,” said Lawrie of his early exit on two-under. “But you can’t putt like that and expect to make the cut, never mind contend.
“I hit the ball really good and didn’t miss a fairway, something I’ve not done for a long time. That’s the positive, but putting was the problem again. In fact, it was awful.”
It wasn’t just a case of struggling with the pace of the Castle Stuart surfaces, either. “I shot three-under having 33 putts. My speed was poor and so was the direction,” he added. “I’ve been struggling on the greens the last few weeks, to be honest, and this week it has been just shocking.
“I pushed a few out there today and seem to be coming up on them too early. It’s an old problem that I’ve had to work on over the years.”
Encouragingly, especially with the season’s third major coming up, it’s something he knows can be easily sorted. “I know where it comes from, which is the good thing, so it won’t take long to fix it,” said the 1999 Open champion. “In fact, I putted better over the last few holes after reminding myself what I should be doing. I’ll put in a couple of hours over the next couple of days and it will hopefully be okay for next week.”
Lawrie had his oldest son, 16-year-old Craig, caddying for him in the Highlands, but Dave Kenny will be back on the bag in Lancashire after his wife gave birth to a baby daughter on Thursday morning. “It was quite funny as he texted me to say he was knackered – I’m not sure it’s him who should be knackered,” said Lawrie, while explaining his decision to turn to a family member as a stand-in rather than hiring a more experienced caddie for a week.
“I struggle when I take a regular caddie for a week – I don’t like doing that,” he said. “These guys are set in their ways and it takes a few weeks to get used to them. I thought it was perfect having Craig on the bag as he knows my game and he could make sure I wasn’t adding up the scores wrong.”
Last time at Lytham (in 2001), Lawrie was lying joint-35th at the halfway stage and played with eventual winner David Duval in the third round, the American carding a 65 that day compared to the Scot’s 69. “It’s a good driving course and I’m looking forward to it,” he said of next week’s return.