Ryder Cup 2012: No mistaking Paul Lawrie for ‘heating guy’ now
MAYBE now the Americans will give him some respect. They made derogatory comments when he won the Open Championship in 1999. Davis Love III, of all people, said that event had “got the winner it deserved” due to how tough the Angus course had been set up that week.
They were at it again in the build-up to the deciding singles at Medinah. In his match-by-match preview, Rick Reilly, the ESPN columnist, said: “There’s a reason [Brandt] Snedeker just won $11.4 million and Lawrie still gets mistaken for your heating and air conditioning guy...”
Johnny Miller, the NBC commentator, had also virtually written Lawrie off before a ball had been hit on Sunday. Yet, there was a perfectly good reason the 43-year-old Aberdonian was handed one of the key spots in the top half of the batting order by Jose Maria Olazabal.
In short, he is playing the best golf of his life. It was only down to poor putting that he lost his opening two games in Chicago, the first in the company of Peter Hanson then alongside Nicolas Colsaerts. In the first of those, the Europeans ran into Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson on one of those days when everything was going in the hole.
Snedeker, one of the American wild cards, may have been riding on the crest of a wave after his double-whammy win in the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup, but he fell 5 and 3 to the Scot. It was Europe’s biggest win of the week. At six-under for the holes played, Lawrie also produced the best figures in the closing session by all 24 players.
He had won his singles at Brookline in 1999 as well, beating Jeff Maggert 3 and 2 there. On that occasion, Lawrie was on the wrong end of the biggest comeback in the event’s history. This time the tables were turned and it proved very sweet indeed.
“To have been 10-6 behind and come back to win on American soil is unbelievable,” confessed Lawrie, still sporting a Saltire around his neck from the closing ceremony. “On Saturday night, in the team room, Jose said he liked the way the pairings came out, the way the match-ups were.
“He said he believed in all of us and that we could win it. He honestly thought we could. We had to give it 100 per cent for him. For me, this win is just behind the Open in terms of achievements.
“Especially the way it’s happened and playing over here. That crowd was tough, it doesn’t get any tougher than that.”
Lawrie had decided to arrive a bit early at the course on Sunday to do some work on his putting. It paid dividends and he was delighted to put Europe’s second point on the board in a session that saw them win the top five matches, giving them the early momentum they needed to pull off their stunning success.
“After two games and two defeats, I’d been taking a wee bit of stick I think from a few people back home, which is fair enough,” he said. “But I didn’t think I’d played poorly. I just putted horrifically. So I got there early in the morning to do some putting and got a bit of a feeling for it. I played really, really nicely.
“My chip in [from off the back of the green] at four was huge as he might have won it with a par. Then I eagled the next and really got going. Jose had made a big thing about the fact that we didn’t get off to good starts, none of the team. No-one had birdied the first, apparently, in any of the matches, so it was important for the first three or four guys to get off to good starts, get ahead and show the guys behind that there are some figures on the board. We did that.
“It was important personally to get something out of the week. I wouldn’t have liked to have gone back with no points. To come out and play the way I did certainly got Brandt on the back foot. I think he was maybe shocked a bit.”
All the way round Lawrie had been thinking about Adam Hunter, his long-time coach and friend who died just under a year ago. “I think of him every day,” he said. “He would have been very proud.” Sons Craig and Michael, who were watching on TV back in Aberdeen, were certainly chuffed for their old man. “I got a text off my boys and I think I might just be cool for the first time,” he chuckled.
Next up for Lawrie is an appearance alongside Craig in this week’s Dunhill Links Championship. As his dad was helping keep the Ryder Cup on this side of the Atlantic, the 17-year-old was getting in some practice for his debut in the pro-am event at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.
As for the 2014 match at Gleneagles, having only recently climbed into the top 30 in the world rankings, Lawrie sees no reason why he can’t face the Americans again, this time on home soil. “I can’t imagine what it will be like to play a Ryder Cup in my home country, so it will be good if I can achieve that. I don’t think I’ll be less competitive in two years’ time. I’ll be a better player,” he said.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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