PAUL Lawrie has come to the end of his tether. Unlike playing partner Shane Lowry, the Aberdonian didn’t show his disgust by slamming shut the recorder’s tent door and making the whole structure shake, but their moods seemed distinctly similar.
“Just shit,” declared Lawrie of the way he’d played in carding a two-over-par 74 on a day when just 15 players completed their opening round in the Turkish Airlines Open at Montgomerie Maxx Royal after a three-hour delay due to thunderstorms.
While most others in the field found birdies easy to come by on the rain-softened layout, Lawrie could only muster two as he ended the day sitting nine shots behind three joint-leaders – English duo Paul Casey and Steve Webster and South African Darren Fichardt.
“I just hit it awful,” added the Aberdonian, who came into this event, the penultimate one in the European Tour’s new Final Series, sitting 64th in the Race to Dubai and needing a high finish to secure a spot in next week’s DP World Tour Championship in the UAE. “For three of four holes it was half decent, but the rest was just rubbish. I’m not getting the club on the ball – horrible.”
It’s reached the point where, unlike last season when he recorded two European Tour victories, secured a Ryder Cup return after a 13-year gap and climbed into the world’s top 30, the end of Lawrie’s current campaign can’t come quick enough.
“It’s not been good for a while, to be honest,” admitted the 44-year-old. “I’ve been struggling, but if I was putting half decent I could keep it going, even with the shots I’m hitting. I just can’t get it going, can’t score. When I hit a good shot, I miss the putt. And when I hit a poor shot, I make a bogey.
“I’m hitting it great on the range, working on the same things as I worked on last year. I can’t wait for the season to finish, to be honest. It’s been a poor season. For the tournaments I’ve been in, to be 64th in the Race to Dubai is awful. I’ve played in every single tournament I need to play in, but I just can’t get going.
“There’s no confidence to keep going this year, for some reason. I want to finish the year right now. I want to go home right now, but you’ve got to keep going as hard as you can. I can still get in next week, but I have to play decent and it’s just not there at the minute.”
The one consolation was he didn’t face an early rise this morning to join the others completing their opening circuits. “At least I’ve got the round finished,” he said. “It would have been horrible to have played like that and then had to go out again tomorrow morning to finish it.”
Out in one of the first groups after play got under way at 12.02pm, Marc Warren also got finished and was reasonably satisfied with a three-under-par 69 that was completed shortly after the klaxon sounded at 4.40pm in the fading light.
“Getting finished became the main goal this afternoon,” admitted Warren after an effort that contained five birdies and left him three shots adrift of the clubhouse leaders, Dane Thorbjorn Olesen and Ricardo Gonzalez from Argentina. “On the front nine the greens were perfect, even after the rain, but later on you could start to see a few heel prints on them.”
“I like the course,” he added of the layout bearing the signature of his World Cup-winning team-mate in 2007. “Tee to green I’d say it’s an old-fashioned type course that asks a lot of questions off the tee, but on the greens, it’s modern.
“A few more putts could have gone in but, overall, I was pleased with the way I hit the ball. It was a shame to make a [par] 5 at the last as I hit a good tee-shot and had the perfect yardage for a 2-iron but just came out of it a bit then had a tricky lie in the bunker. It’s a solid start without being spectacular.”
Warren’s place in the Dubai finale has been secured for some time but, after being disappointed with his recent form, the two-times European Tour winner is determined to finish his season with a flourish.
“I’d had a good year until the last couple of months, which have been poor,” he added. “I’d now just like to finish the year on a high in this event and next week’s one, which are both massive. A week on Sunday night I want to come off the course feeling proud of what I’ve achieved this year and two good weeks under my belt would make that happen.”
Three other Scots – Stephen Gallacher (through 15 holes), Craig Lee (14) and David Drysdale (11) – were also sitting on three-under as they resumed at 8am today. Montgomerie and Richie Ramsay are both on level par with two and four holes to play respectively, with Scott Jamieson on two over.
Montgomerie, playing his first European Tour event since June, felt that the klaxon had been sounded 15 minutes too early but, with a restricted field, the event will comfortably get back on schedule, providing there are no further delays.