Dominant Paul Lawrie able to savour a victory procession at Gleneagles
PAUL Lawrie last night spoke of his pride after delivering the home victory which a record crowd for the Johnnie Walker Championship had turned up in Perthshire hoping to witness.
To the delight of a last-day gallery of nearly 18,000, the 43-year-old turned the final round of the £1.4 million event into a procession as he chalked up the eighth win of his European Tour career.
A closing 67 – the fourth time he had broken 70 in the week – gave him a 16-under-par total of 278 and a four-shot victory over Australian Brett Rumford.
On a rewarding day for Scottish golf, Richie Ramsay (68), Colin Montgomerie (69) and Stephen Gallacher (71) all finished in a tie for sixth on ten-under, while Peter Whiteford (67 for nine-under) and Craig Lee (67 for eight-under) were also in the top 15.
However, it was the rejuvenated Lawrie who claimed centre stage as he celebrated securing a Ryder Cup return, bridging a 13-year gap in the process, by claiming the £233,330 top prize.
It was his third triumph on home soil after wins in the 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie and, two years later, the Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.
The success was also Lawrie’s second of the 2012 campaign after victory in the Qatar Masters back in early February had put him on course for a spot on the European team heading for Medinah in just over a month’s time. It is difficult to rank wins, but this one is huge for me,” beamed the new champion, who celebrated with a fist pump after holing the winning putt. “The support I’ve had this week has been incredible and there was a lot of pressure out there today.
“You’re one ahead and you’re the highest-ranked Scot in the field. People are coming out expecting you to play well, so to go out and play as nicely as I did today was pleasing.
“It’s the first time a Scot has won three times in Scotland so that feels great. They have all been big wins, too.”
One ahead of Frenchman Romain Wattel at the start of the day, Lawrie played majestically from start to finish as he became only the second Scot to win the Johnnie Walker event after Marc Warren, who claimed the title in 2007.
“That is probably one of the best ball-striking weeks of my career,” added the Aberdonian. “I putted pretty poorly today, to be honest, so to still shoot four-under shows you how nicely I’m hitting the ball.
“I didn’t miss many fairways this week and I was also hitting it a long way. It’s been a great week in a high-quality field.
“Obviously the conditions suit me, because I’m Scottish, but this week the weather’s been pretty good. I just feel comfortable when I play on home soil.
“I hit the ball extremely well in the pro-am on Wednesday and knew if I could keep the same feelings I would have a chance this week. I missed a few birdie putts at the start today but, because I’m older now, I just keep plugging away and kept patient as I knew the putts would come.”
The win has catapulted Lawrie into seventh spot in the Race to Dubai, with his aim once the Ryder Cup is out of the way being to finish in the top five on that list.
“That was the new goal after I’d qualified for Chicago,” he revealed. “Any time you win a tournament this late in the year you’re going to jump up the Race to Dubai, so it’s been a huge week with that in mind.”
Turning to the Ryder Cup, Lawrie admitted he will be heading across the Atlantic full of confidence for his first appearance against the Americans since the 1999 clash at
Brookline, where he hit the opening shot of the match and went on to notch three-and-a-half points out of five. “Confidence-wise the last six weeks have not been easy as I had not been playing as well as I had at the start of the year,” he said.
“But, having played well here to win, I’m feeling full of confidence again and am looking forward to the Ryder Cup.
“I’ll play as hard as I can and as well as I can and hopefully win some points.
“I’ve been doing this a long time and, while I’m certainly not good enough to think I can beat anyone, I certainly don’t tee off in any tournament thinking I’m going to be beat.”
As Lawrie was asked if he’d mind hitting the first tee shot again, he burst out laughing at the sight of his biographer,
Scotland on Sunday golf writer John Huggan, nodding off at the back of the interview room.
“Unbelievable, you’re writing my book, man,” he shouted with a hearty chuckle. “Give yourself a shake.”
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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