PAUL Lawrie is targeting his version of a Tartan Grand Slam in a late bid to qualify for the Ryder Cup team by adding the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open to his CV.
Lawrie, whose 5 and 3 victory over Brandt Snedeker in the singles inspired the “Miracle of Medinah” two years ago, has achieved three of his biggest career wins in Scotland. The most notable of them was his Open triumph at Carnoustie in 1999, followed by his victory in the Dunhill Links Champions two years later and the most recent of his eight European Tour wins, the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in 2012.
But the 45-year-old Aberdonian claimed yesterday that winning his national Open in his home city would be second only to the Open. He also believes that he must have the most successful summer of his life, in the autumn of his career, if he is to achieve his ambition to play in a third Ryder Cup match.
“I am well down on both points lists,” Lawrie reflected. “Even before I was injured I was struggling and I need something to get going again. If I managed to win the Scottish Open, or the Open, it would probably be enough to make Paul McGinley sit up and think about a pick, because to get in automatically now is a big ask, although plenty people have gone on big runs in the past and won two or three events in a row.
“But, if I can help in any way if I don’t make the team, I would do whatever the captain wanted me to, even drive a buggy or fetch the water bottles.”
Lawrie is unfazed by the weight of expectation ahead of next month’s tournament at Royal Aberdeen after pointing out: “I tend to pull out performances in Scotland because I want to play well in front of my own people and I feed off them.
“I also stayed at home when I won at Carnoustie and it’s an advantage playing at a course 20 minutes from my house, so let’s hope that’s a good omen.”
However, Lawrie may have made it even more difficult for himself by selling the £3 million event to a host of world stars, including Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, at the behest of the sponsor. But he claimed: “It’s easy to sell Royal Aberdeen to any top golfer, because it’s one of the best courses they will play.
“It demands the same attributes as any links course. You’ve got to control the flight of your ball because you are going to have wind and a bit of rain. You are also going to get bounces that you are not happy with, so attitude is very important. I tend not to struggle with that. I control the flight of my ball because I have been brought up doing that since I was a wee boy. Hitting five-irons 120 yards sometimes is part of links golf.
“Accepting bad bounces is harder because you think most of the time if you hit a good shot you get a good result. But that is not always the case in links golf and getting your head around that is crucial.
“Obviously, for me, having been born and bred in Aberdeen, it doesn’t get any better. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I would like to have the Scottish Open on my CV and to win it here would be unbelievable; a dream come true. Everyone wants to win their home Open and to do so in Aberdeen would be pretty cool.
“It’s a course I know really well. I play here four or five times a year, which is obviously a lot more than the rest of the field, with the exception of Richie Ramsay, who is also a member. It’s a world-class field and it’s going to be tough to get into contention. The winner is going to have to play some great golf but, if I did win it, would be second only to the Open.
“The fact it is in Aberdeen will probably mean there is more support for me than I’ve ever had in a tournament, but that’s a positive.
“There is no more pressure for me to perform because I put myself under pressure every week.
“I have been lucky to win some of my biggest events in Scotland, where I tend to pull out performances and feed off knowing people are walking round watching you more than the other two, at least you would think so.”
Lawrie insists that the neck injury which disrupted his schedule earlier in the season is no longer a concern.
He added: “It has been 100 per cent. I have not felt it once in three weeks back at the Spanish Open, the PGA Championship and in Sweden.”
Rickie Fowler is the latest big-name American to accept the challenge of Royal Aberdeen, to the delight of championship director Peter Adams.
“It is one of the best fields we have had and, possibly, with a few more names added, it could be the best ever,” he observed.
We have 23 of the world’s top 60 at the moment, five Open champions and a total of seven major champions in the field.”