It was fairytale stuff on a sun-kissed day in the Highlands. Playing in his 100th event on the Challenge Tour, David Law landed a maiden win with victory on home soil. That so many well-kent faces, including his mentor, Paul Lawrie, were there to see him claim the SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge title at Macdonald Spey Valley made it a special day for the 27-year-old Aberdonian.
“I’m lost for words,” admitted Law, choking back the tears, after closing with a 67 in Aviemore for an 11-under-par 273 total, picking up a £35,141 top prize by two shots from Dane Joachim B Hansen (69), with Portugal’s Pedro Figueiredo (72) a couple further back in third.
Law won big events as an amateur, including two Scottish Championships, and had landed a handful of victories since turning professional seven years ago, including the Northern Open and the Paul Lawrie Invitational.
“But this is the best,” he declared, having become the second Scot to triumph on the European Tour’s feeder circuit this season’s after Liam Johnston’s success in Spain last month. “In five years out here, I’ve never been close to winning, to be honest.
“I had a couple of chances down the years, but to do it here with everybody here is just amazing. There’s more pressure this week as it’s your home event, but there’s also more support and that’s huge. Everyone was rooting me on and I felt that carrying me through.”
Apart perhaps from his mum Teresa and dad Dave, as well as fiancee Natasha, no-one was rooting for Law more than Lawrie. He’s mentored Law over the past decade or so since he started to show promise as one of the first products of the Paul Lawrie Foundation.
“Paul sent me a text on Saturday saying ‘do you mind if I come up and watch?’ and I said ‘absolutely, it would be great’,” said Law after the pair shared a huge hug as he came off the 18th green. “He can analyse everything, good or bad and we’ll talk about all of the things I did and what I did.”
The win lifted Law to tenth spot in the Road to Ras Al Khaimah rankings and Lawrie reckons he can now kick on to secure his European Tour card. “It [Law winning] means as much as when you do it yourself when you see the boys coming through,” said the 1999 Open champion. “That’s our first challenge tour winner. It doesn’t get any better, in fact it’s quite emotional. It’s good. He’s a great lad and it’s easy to help people who are like that. He’s a proper lad who wants it desperately, so all we can do is help him.
“I feel he’s Tour level, but he now has to kick on and prove that. To get a really good card and kick on. That’s up to him, there’s a lot of good players out here as we know. Use this week to kick on and not just think that’s it, and he won’t. He’s level headed, really good lad, and I’m sure he’ll work hard from here.”
Law joined Jamie McLeary (2009) and George Murray (2010) in claiming this title. The tartan treble was completed courtesy of a polished performance. He’d led from the opening round and still had his nose in front at halfway. A strong finish in the third round left him a shot off the pace heading into the final round. That he hit 17 greens in regulation in that was an outstanding effort. He moved into a share of the lead with a birdie at the seventh, went ahead on his own after 11 and had the bit between his teeth as a 15-foot birdie putt dropped at the 16th.
The Scot’s form dipped last season as he suffered personal heartache when his fiancee lost a baby son. He’s gradually rediscovered his passion for the game, but it’s been a slow process. “About six weeks ago, I was playing pretty rubbish to be honest,” he admitted. “My head was all over the place. I didn’t think I’d be here.”