PAUL Lawrie, a member of the history-equalling European team at Medinah on Sunday, yesterday delivered the Ryder Cup by helicopter to Gleneagles, the venue for the next joust with the Americans in 2014.
The Scot, who beat Brandt Snedeker in his singles match as Jose Maria Olazbal’s side came from 10-6 down to win by a point in Chicago, is hoping to be back at the Perthshire venue then to make his third appearance in the biennial bout.
But, if asked and he himself thinks it would be unlikely at a time when he’s sitting 28th in the world rankings, Lawrie admitted it would be hard to turn down the chance to captain the European team on home soil.
Irishman Paul McGinley, one of the four vice-captains in Illinois, is now the odds-on favourite to get the job in Perthshire after Olazabal immediately ruled himself out of a second stint in charge.
Next on the bookmakers’ list is 2010 winning captain Colin Montgomerie, who lives close to Gleneagles, but there’s a strong feeling within the game that Lawrie, on offer at around 8-1, has the better chance of leading the team in Scotland.
Speaking as he prepared for the £3.5 million Dunhill Links Championship, which he is playing in this week with his 17-year-old son Craig, Lawrie offered his views on speculation surrounding the 2014 event.
“If I keep performing as I have been, I’m going to have a fair chance of getting in that team and, if I don’t get in, it won’t be for the lack of trying,” he said.
“I’m going to be in all the top events for the next little while and I don’t see that, two years from now, I’ll be less competitive than I am now.”
Asked about the possibility of being offered the captaincy, he added: “I don’t think they will. But, if they did, it’s a tough decision to make because not many people would knock it back.”
While Lawrie was among those who appointed Olazabal just under two years ago, the Aberdonian has since come off the tournament committee that is likely to pick the 2014 captain in Abu Dhabi in February.
Referring to that group of decision-makers, he said: “I would like to think they would look at it and see that, sitting 28th in the world, that’s not the time to be captain.
“I think they would know that I want to play in that [next] team. But, if they do offer it to me, which I don’t think they will, then that’s a huge decision I would have to make at the time.”
Unsurprisingly, Lawrie sat on the fence when asked who’d get his vote for Gleneagles amongst McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke and Thomas Bjorn, the four vice-captains at Medinah.
He was adamant, however, that Clarke shouldn’t necessarily be ruled out of the equation on the strength of the stinging criticism he once aimed at the PGA Centenary Course. “It’s a different course now than it was when Darren made those comments,” he said. “They have made huge improvements to it. They’ve spent a lot of money and I’m sure they will spend a lot more before it kicks off in two years’ time. You’d have to ask Gleneagles if it’s a problem, but I don’t see it as a problem in terms of the captaincy.”
Still savouring his role in Europe’s final-day fightback in Illinois, Lawrie revealed the level of verbal abuse that had been aimed at him and his team-mates from the raucous home support. “I got things like, ‘top it’, ‘shank it’, ‘Lawrie you’re a loser’,” he said. “Every single shot you hit last week, just before you hit it, that’s what you got.
“I think a few of the players had a bit more than that, but it was the same the last time I played [in a Ryder Cup in America]. They [the Americans] said it’s the same when they come here, though I can’t see that.”
He said Olazabal had warned his players not to react to anyone and coming home with the trophy had enabled the Europeans to have the last laugh.
“Jose was very clear about us not reacting. He told us, ‘don’t even look at them’, ‘don’t take them on’ and ‘don’t make it seem as though it’s hurting us’.
“It’s pretty tough when someone is screaming and bawling in your ear that you’re a loser, but there’s not much you can do.
“It just made it all the more satisfying on Sunday night when you are standing there with the Ryder Cup in front of you and they’re not.” Lawrie, the 2001 winner, is playing in the Dunhill Links for the first time with son Craig, who plays off scratch at Deeside. The older half of the pairing admitted to having a headache following the party in Medinah but will be “ready to go” at Carnoustie this morning.
“The Ryder Cup was great to be part of, but it’s time to move on,” said the former Open champion, who has the Million Dollar Challenge at Sun City on his schedule between now and the end of his season.