IT’S entirely understandable that Paul Lawrie wants to be in the ranks of the Red Army when his beloved Aberdeen take on Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the final of the League Cup on 16 March.
A Pittodrie regular whenever his schedule permits – Lawrie also takes in the occasional away game, too – he’s waited 14 years to see the Dons appear in a major final again, so his heart is saying he should be there.
It’s been more than 40 years, though, since the Ryder Cup has been held in Scotland – it could be as long before its back again as well – so Lawrie’s head is telling him he should be in Morocco instead that Sunday.
It’s where the European Tour’s Hassan Trophy is taking place and, having conceded it is going to take something close to winning another major to earn automatic qualification, the Aberdonian believes he needs to play in that to underline his commitment to try to secure one of Paul McGinley’s three wild cards for September’s match at Gleneagles.
“I don’t know what I am doing at the minute,” replied Lawrie on being asked about his schedule following the completion of the European Tour’s Middle East Swing. “Morocco was my next planned event, but I am not sure if I will be there with the cup final being on.
“It is quite a difficult one. It is obviously not great to be pulling out of a golf tournament in a Ryder Cup year because your football team are in a cup final. However, we have not been in many cup finals.
“I am not sure but, if I don’t play Morocco, then it would be nine or ten weeks at home, which is no good for me when I am trying to get going again. So I think I will probably go to Morocco. If you want to get in that [Ryder Cup] team, then you need to play golf and not go to cup finals.”
Lawrie, who helped pull off the “Miracle at Medinah” in the 2012 match, is lying 65th on the European points list and 76th on the world one. Neither is close to where he wanted to be at this stage of the qualifying race.
He’s a long way from throwing in the towel, though, and he told McGinley, the European captain, over breakfast at the recent Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship that he aims to give him a “headache” when it comes to handing out his three wildcards later in the year.
“At the moment, yes,” replied the 1999 Open champion on being asked if he felt getting one of those picks was his realistic route back into the team. “You can’t see I’ll earn enough or play well enough to get there automatically but who knows what’s coming up. There are a lot big tournaments coming up in the summer, the Open, for instance, if you knock that off, then who knows.
“My goal is to make sure Paul has a bit of headache with me. I want him to see me as a valuable pick. I need to get my game going well before the Open to show him that I’m worth a pick.
“I had breakfast with him in Abu Dhabi. He was honest. He said he was not disappointed but he thought I would have earned more points at this stage. That’s true. I thought I would have been better myself.
“But, like he said, there’s still time for you to get going and earn points and I said I want to give you a headache when the time comes to make picks. I want to make the team, I want to play for you. We’ll see. If I can win one big event in the summer and he’s got three picks? I’ve got to be worth an outside shout.”
Lawrie travelled home from Dubai, the last leg of the Desert Swing, via Frankfurt to do some promotional work for Caledonia putters and make some tweaks to the model he’s been using so far this year. “They are going to change some of the grooves on the face,” he said.
That, coupled with the practice he’s got planned on the new indoor putting green at his golf centre on the outskirts of Aberdeen, is giving the 45-year-old confidence that he can finally see good play from tee to green be rewarded.
“Dubai at the weekend was as good as I’ve ever played, but I couldn’t get the ball in the hole,” he said. “It’s not 25-30 footers, it’s 12-15 footers that aren’t going in. I feel close, but I’ve been saying that for a while.”
As Lawrie sweats over his League Cup/Ryder Cup dilemma, he is also waiting to hear back from organisers of some upcoming PGA Tour events after asking for invitations. Last year, Martin Laird won in San Antonio the week before the Masters to earn a ticket to Augusta and now Lawrie, who has just been joined in the 4Sports management stable by rising Swedish star Johan Carlsson, is aiming to do likewise.
“I’m trying to get into Houston, Texas, and Bay Hill,” he revealed. “It’s a bit early to know if I’ll be successful, but I’d like to play in two at least.”