Paul Lawrie set for WGC return after South African success

Paul Lawrie was delighted to have his youngest son, Michael, as his playing partner in the team event as the Aberdonian won the Dimension Data Pro Am at Fancourt. Picture: Petri Oeschger/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images

Paul Lawrie was delighted to have his youngest son, Michael, as his playing partner in the team event as the Aberdonian won the Dimension Data Pro Am at Fancourt. Picture: Petri Oeschger/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images

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Paul Lawrie secured a World Golf Championship appearance later this year after recording the 13th victory of his career with a one-stroke success in the Dimension Data Pro-Am at Fancourt in South Africa.

Two shots behind at the start of the final round in the Sunshine Tour event, the 48-year-old birdied the last as he closed with a five-under-par 67 on the George resort’s Montagu Course for a 15-under-par 274 total.

Lawrie’s first victory since the 2012 Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles was made special for the Aberdonian due to it coming in the company of his youngest son, scratch player Michael, as the pair joined forces to finish fourth in the team event.

The success, which is set to lift Lawrie 200 spots to around 250th in the world rankings, came on the eve of him announcing that he is set to join fellow major 
winners Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood in Andrew “Chubby” Chandler’s International Sports Management stable

“I’m obviously delighted,” said Lawrie after a flawless last-day effort saw him finish ahead of American Justin Hicks (66), Englishman Chris Lloyd (70) and home hope Chris Swanepoel (70), the latter two having shared the overnight lead. “I’ve not won for four years, so it is great, especially to play with my son. We’ve had a great week and to go away with the trophy is fantastic. It was awesome for him to see me win.”

In an event that also featured Westwood, as well as leading South Africans such George Coetzee, Hennie Otto, Darren Fichardt, Trevor Fisher Jnr and Dean Burmester, Lawrie made his move with back-to-back birdies at the third and fourth before a 2 at the eighth took him out in 33. He then birdied the 10th and 18th - two par-5s - to set the clubhouse target, which neither Swanepoel or Lloyd could match as they had to settle for closing pars.

“It’s a huge boost,” added Lawrie. “Yesterday afternoon I hit it really nicely but didn’t make any putts on the back nine. I felt I was hitting the ball really well and got off to a nice start today and just kept it going. Tee to green this week I’ve hardly put a foot wrong. I’ve played really well. I’ve hit the ball solid and also holed a few putts. I’m now going to take a little break as I spend a few weeks back home, but my confidence has definitely been boosted.”

Worth just under £50,000, the victory also earned Lawrie a spot in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. That event was his last appearance on a WGC stage, finishing joint-27th behind Tiger Woods in 2013.

“That’s a nice bonus and I didn’t know that until last night,” he admitted. “I’ve just joined Chubby at ISM and, as I was sitting next to him last night, he said, ‘if you play well tomorrow you are going to get in the Bridgestone’. 
Maybe that’s why I played so well today.

“Any time Lee Westwood is in the field, you have to play well to win and I’ve had a great week. Finishing fourth in the team event was also good effort.”

South African-based Scot Doug McGuigan finished joint-27th on eight-under after a closing 72 while 
Bradley Neil’s final-round 73 left him in a share of 61st 
spot.

Elsewhere, defending champion Craig Ross was among three Scots to make encouraging starts in the qualifying for the South African Amateur Championship at Humewood.

The Kirkhill player carded a bogey-free three-under 69 to sit joint-26th, behind both Liam Johnston and Calum Fyfe as the signed for 67 and 68 respectively.

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