PAUL Lawrie has admitted that the lingering reluctance by some people to grant him credit for claiming the 1999 Open Championship is his motivation to become “the worst-ever two-major winner in history”.
The Aberdonian has also revealed how, in the 13 years since that triumph at Carnoustie, he has been angered at having to constantly put up with people, Americans especially but also Buckingham Palace officials, either pronouncing his name wrong or getting it wrong altogether.
Lawrie has used his new biography, An Open Book, to reveal the hurt he felt over the years due to the lack of recognition he received after becoming a major winner, admitting it was painful for him to read time and time again about Jean van de Velde’s woes at the 72nd hole, where the Frenchman ran up a triple-bogey 7.
It was so bad, in fact, it got to the stage where Lawrie sometimes wished he’d never won in Angus and it led to him suffering a bout of depression in his career.
“Understandably, the immediate focus, post-Open, was on van de Velde. I didn’t have a problem with that,” says Lawrie, who is signing copies of the book tonight in his home city. “But I did feel quite strongly that I should get some acclaim for playing so well on the last day and winning the play-off in, I felt, some style.
“I certainly felt [a] lack of respect and I can’t tell you how often I said to myself, over and over, ‘I wish I had never won that tournament’. I read a story recently and one of the comments on the website said that I was ‘one of the top-three worst major winners of all-time’. I thought that was harsh and it is disheartening to think people think that of me. But it is motivating, too. I’ll be trying very hard to become, in some minds at least, the worst-ever major winner in history.”
On his bout of depression, which kicked in four years after the Carnoustie triumph, the 43-year-old said it got so bad at one stage that he could “hardly get out of bed” and turned him into someone who “wasn’t very nice to be around”.
Lawrie, a member of Europe’s winning Ryder Cup team at Medinah earlier this year, reveals he once became so fed up with Americans pronouncing his name as “Lowry” that he confronted some fans out on the course at Hawaii.
He also said he had been “pissed off” after Buckingham Palace officials had announced him as “Peter Lawrie” – the Irish player of that name wasn’t even on the European Tour at that time – when he went there to receive an MBE for his services to golf.
Looking to the future, Lawrie has no intention of becoming a PGA Tour card holder again, having disliked the experience from when he was the Open champion. However, he has his sights set on the over-50s Champions Tour in America, aiming to use that to do some travelling with his wife, Marian.
• An Open Book, by Paul Lawrie with John Huggan, is published by DP Publishing and costs £16.99.