PAUL Lawrie, the sole Saltire bearer in last year’s Ryder Cup at Medinah, looks set to miss out on representing Scotland in the World Cup of Golf later this season.
With under a fortnight to go before the cut-off for qualification for the $8 million event, Martin Laird and Stephen Gallacher are in pole position to claim the spots up for grabs in Melbourne. It follows Lawrie, who finished last year sitting 29th, having slipped to 66th – below both Laird and Gallacher – in the world rankings over the past few months.
Laird, currently in 58th place, reclaimed the mantle of top Scot on the eve of the Open Championship at Muirfield, while Gallacher also went above Lawrie last week and is currently in 62nd position.
Won by Colin Montgomerie and Marc Warren in 2007 – Scotland’s sole success in the event – the eligibility for this year’s World Cup is based on a similar system to the one that will be utilised for golf’s return to the Olympics in 2016.
The top 15 in the world will be automatically eligible for a 60-man field, with the selections thereafter being based on the world rankings from 16th onwards as of 23 September. There are four events – two each on the European Tour and PGA Tour – to be played before then, but none of the three Scots is playing in them.
Laird has already bowed out of the FedEx Cup play-offs, so is not eligible for either the BMW Championship, starting in Chicago tomorrow, or next week’s Tour Championship in Atlanta. And, on this side of the Atlantic, neither Gallacher nor Lawrie is playing in KLM Open, which gets underway in the Netherlands tomorrow, nor the Italian Open in Turin next week.
While a decent performance in either of those events could have been enough for him to climb back above Gallacher, it is to Lawrie’s immense credit that he has decided to fulfil three Tartan Tour commitments over the next two weeks.
The former Open champion is currently playing in the two-day Carnegie Invitational at Skibo Castle, one of his main sponsors. He will then heads for Gleneagles on Friday to take part in the Friends of the Beatson Charity Pro-Am, an event in honour of Lawrie’s long-time coach, Adam Hunter.
Next week, the 44-year-old hosts the third Paul Lawrie Invitational at Deeside, where he is being joined in the 54-hole event by 1999 Ryder Cup team-mate Andrew Coltart as well his elder son, Craig and his caddie, Dave Kenny. All of which means, despite the world rankings often throwing up the unexpected even when players miss the odd event, the order of the leading Scots is set to remain as it currently stands between now and the World Cup cut-off.
Both Gallacher and Lawrie have already submitted their entries for the Royal Melbourne event, although the latter will now have to wait to see if Laird is going to make the long trip from America.
It was Laird and Gallacher who represented Scotland in China two years ago, although the team element is a sideshow on this occasion. It is primarily an individual stroke-play event, the winner of which will receive $1.2 million from a $7m pot for that part, with the $1m team event offering $300,000 each to the winning combination.
Gallacher is also in a strong position to make the Great Britain & Ireland team captained by Sam Torrance for next month’s Seve Trophy in Paris. With both teams based on Race to Dubai positions, the 38-year-old is currently the fifth leading GB&I player, although he could effectively be in top spot at the moment as it is unlikely that Graeme McDowell, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter or Lee Westwood will make the journey to France from their bases in America.
So Warren and Scott Jamieson, a member of the winning side under Paul McGinley two years ago, are also in with a good shout of being in the team.