PAUL LAWRIE was heckled by American fans on the first practice day for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah.
The former Open champion revealed in a radio interview that he’d heard some comments aimed at him as he played in the same group as Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Sergio Garcia.
It is believed some fans shouted “Peter Lawrie”, referring to the Irishman who is also a European Tour player.
That re-opened fresh wounds for the Aberdonian after Colin Montgomerie’s autobiography, which was published earlier in the year, mistakenly got the names mixed up.
Other fans are believed to have shown a total lack of respect to Lawrie by poking fun at his presence in the company of world No. 1 McIlroy, McDowell and Garcia.
Before news of what had happened out on the course had emerged, Lawrie spoke about why he’d not consider becoming a PGA Tour player, though his reason had nothing to do with how fans treat him in America.
“The main reason is that I still spend a lot of time on the Foundation that we have back home,” he said. “I’m very much a home boy. We (his family) love living where we live and we have all our family and friends there.
“Had it been 10-12 years ago then maybe. But now, at 43, I want to be home in Aberdeen on a Sunday night and not going back to a country where you weren’t born.
“I’m in the top 50 in the world rankings, I get to play in the majors and the World Golf Championships. I also get to stay at home – so it’s a perfect combination for me.”
Whether Lawrie and Garcia prove a perfect combination on the outskirts of Chicago later in the week remains to be seen. They had an off day, especially on the greens, and were soundly beaten by McIlroy and McDowell, a tried and tested pairing from Europe’s victory in Wales two years ago.
“Sergio and I got whipped pretty bad,” revealed the Scot. “We lost a bit of cash today, which was not good. Rory and Graeme played pretty well and Sergio and I didn’t hole any putts.
“But it was good fun to see the course and we had a bit of banter going around, so it was all good.
“I was pretty tired. I’m not the best with jet-lag, so I was pretty tired out there. I struggled a bit, only making a couple of birdies, but hopefully we’ll play better tomorrow.”
Asked if he’d been surprised to find himself partnering Garcia, Lawrie added: “Not really. The captain asked me who I would like to play with this week and I said anyone. I think a lot of the guys would say the same thing.
“It doesn’t matter really who you play with. I think we are here as a team. My game isn’t suited to fourballs or foursomes so I think I’d be pretty easy for anyone to play with.”
Lawrie played at Medinah when it hosted the 1999 USPGA Championship, won by Tiger Woods.
The course set up this week is much easier than it was then due to American captain Davis Love III asking for the rough to be cut back to almost nothing.
That is to allow his big-hitters to open their shoulders without fear of finding any trouble, but Lawrie denied it necessarily favoured the Americans.
“That’s the reason for there being no rough, but I think we’ve got a lot of guys on our team who are long-hitters as well,” he noted.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of birdies out there. I also think you’ll see a lot of chip-ins as there’s no rough around the greens and the greens are rolling pretty true. There are more slopes on them than I can remember from 1999, but they are very good.”
Lawrie was also asked if he felt the European team spirit this week might be affected by only three of the players coming on the official charter from London on Monday. The rest were already in the States, having either played in the Tour Championship in Atlanta or travelled to Chicago from their homes in Florida.
“If you had seen us last night in the team room, you certainly would think it’s damaged anything,” he replied. “The team spirit in our camp has always been fantastic so I don’t see it hurting us one bit.”