PAUL LAWRIE’S unstinting commitment to furthering the development of golf in his native city of Aberdeen was highlighted once again yesterday by the announcement of a new match play tournament at Murcar Links.
The former Open champion will launch the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play as part of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.
The new event will be held from 30 July to 2 August next year, with a 64-strong field and a prize fund of approximately £800,000.
Lawrie, who does sterling work through his Foundation, already supports several other tournaments, including his Invitational at Deeside, the Northern Open, The Ladies Tartan Tour and, previously, the Scottish Boys Open.
He also revealed that he will be making a further announcement soon regarding another event which will have his backing after confirming that the this latest tournament will be part of the Race to Dubai for the next three years at least.
But Lawrie, 45, says that the creation of a European Tour event bearing his name is the realisation of a long-term ambition.
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“I used to look at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and thought how cool it would be to have an event on the tour with your name on it,” he said.
“It’s not an ego thing. I actually didn’t want my name on this event but Mike Loggie at Saltire was insistent that it needs to be both our names up there because we’re doing it together.
“For me, it’s just part of giving back. I was helped a lot when I was young and still am to this day, so giving back is important.
“Stewart Spence, who owns the Marcliffe Hotel, is the guy who started it all off for me and I thought I’d like to be what he is. I’d like to be the guy who gives something back.
“I’ve had a pretty good career, I’ve made quite a bit of money and done well from where I’ve started and the idea is to give back as much as you possibly can.
“This is something I have always wanted to do, in the city I was brought up in, and to have an event here, at Murcar, made sense.”
But, while Lawrie had been exploring the possibility of staging a big tournament for some considerable time, it was not until the success of the Scottish Open last summer at neighbouring Royal Aberdeen that he pushed ahead with his plans.
He explained: “It had been at the back of my mind to do this. But the decision to go and make it happen came at the media day for the Scottish Open when I was asked if I had any plans to come back.
“I wondered if I could lay on a tournament for the Tour to come back so I had a few meetings and one of the first was with Mike and he was keen to come on board, saying let’s do it, let’s get it together and the whole thing has grown and grown.
“The initial idea was to grow the existing Invitational into a Challenge Tour event but we are going to keep that as a Tartan Tour event and this will one will go on the main schedule.
“There is a glaring lack of matchplay on the circuit and I love it, man v man, and this is right up there for me, personally, in terms of what I have done in my career.
“It is also important that Scotland has a legacy post-Ryder Cup and the more you can prepare the younger players in matchplay events the better chance they will have of playing in one, hopefully.”
Lawrie is rarely short of local backing for his various ventures, given what he puts back into the community and his Foundation events are always well supported, in the knowledge that he and his backroom team, which includes wife Marian, run them efficiently.
He added: “The Foundation was something I always wanted in the Aberdeen area and it was the same with a tournament on the Tour. I am still competitive but I wanted to get it started and leave it with my name on it for years to come.
“For the first year it will be at Murcar and then we’ll see what happens after that. But Murcar is well suited to matchplay.”
But there is already speculation that the event may be switched to the new Trump Course a little further along the Aberdeenshire coast in future years.
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