Talk about winning in style. Signing off with the day’s best score – a six-under-par 66 – to land a maiden European Tour victory in the ISPS Handa Vic Open was impressive enough. But to do so after calling a penalty on yourself in the middle of the round then finishing with a brilliant eagle understandably earned David Law massive admiration from the golfing world as the Aberdonian savoured his sweet success in Australia.
“My ball moved when I went into the putt,” said Law of his self-imposed penalty at the ninth on the closing circuit at 13th Beach Golf Club that dropped him five shots off the lead. In truth, the 27-year-old wasn’t thinking about winning at that stage. That he did was the result of not letting such an unfortunate setback get to him. “Walking to the tenth tee, my caddie Max and I just said, ‘reset, try to keep calm’ and luckily we did,” he added.
Back-to-back birdies to start the back nine put some wind back in his sails. Even then, Law stood on the 16th tee trailing the long-time leader, home favourite Wade Ormsby, by three shots. “The aim was to try to finish 3-2-4 in the hope that we could get a top-three finish,” admitted Law.
He did indeed birdie the 16th but had to settle for a par at the penultimate hole. Law was faced with 214 yards for his second into the par-5 18th. He hit a cracker to around ten feet and rolled in the putt for an eagle. He was home in 31 and, at the time of finishing, shared the lead with Ormsby. It meant a “nervy wait” but one that ended with a massive winning smile on the Scot’s face.
Ormsby ran up a double-bogey at the 17th then could only make a birdie at the last. With an 18-under 270 total, Law won by a shot from Ormsby (70) and another Australian, Brad Kennedy (67). The victory earned Law only £140,000 plus an exemption until the end of the 2020 campaign. The success came in only his fifth event since stepping up to the European Tour as a Challenge Tour graduate.
“It sounds amazing,” he admitted of being announced as the champion. “I never thought it would have happened at the start of today, but I dug in on the back nine. It’s massive. It’s not something I expected. For me just being out here on the European Tour was enough. I’ve been loving the four events I’ve played so far and just to be a European Tour player I was happy with that. To have won today changes things a little bit. I’ll go home, reflect a little bit on things and re-assess.”
Law, a two-time Scottish Amateur champion, had shown real class as he won the SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge at Macdonald Spey Valley in Aviemore last June. That breakthrough success helped him secure a main Tour card for the first time along with Grant Forrest, Liam Johnston and Bob MacIntyre. That class was evident once more on this occasion, especially with that sublime second shot at the 72nd hole.
“No, never,” he replied to being asked if he’d had a more important shot in his career. “I was kind of in between clubs, in between a hybrid and a 4-iron, and in a normal week you probably just hit the 4, take the two putts from the front of the green. But I needed to make 3 to have a chance of winning the tournament, so I took some off the hybrid it and it came out perfect.”
And the putt? “I couldn’t have asked for an easier one, to be honest,” he said of that. “It was straight downhill and there wasn’t really any break in it, so I just had to get it going. I thought I had pulled it a little bit and it snuck in the left edge. It was a relief to see it drop.”
Law and his partner, Natasha, suffered tragedy off the course in 2017 when son Freddie was stillborn. He was actually on the brink of taking on other work over the winter before getting a new lease of life with that aforementioned win on home soil. Not long after securing his main Tour card he became a father. And now this.
“The last few months have been fantastic,” he admitted. “It’s been such a high from previous times. We’ve got a little girl, Penelope, at home and she’s two months old now, so I can’t wait to get home to see Penelope, Natasha and the rest of the family.”
The win, which came after two missed cuts in a row in Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia, lifted Law to 17th in this season’s Race to Dubai. He’s six spots behind David Drysdale after the 43-year-old Cockburnspath man signed off with a bogey-free 67 to finish joint-fifth. It was his third top-five finish this season. “I didn’t play my best today, but got up and down when I had to and, overall, a good week,” admitted Drysdale, who picked up just under £30,000.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to get him back into the top 10 on the points list, leaving him to agonisingly miss out on a berth in the upcoming WGC-Mexico Championship. “I did have my eye on Mexico, but, after missing the three cuts in the Middle East, I had quite a lot to do today. I think if I got to 16-under I had a chance. I just couldn’t quite get there.”
In the women’s event, which was also played over the Beach course for equal prize-money, Celine Boutier carded a 72 to claim a two-shot victory. The Frenchwoman finished on eight under to hold off local favourites Sarah Kemp and Su Oh, as well as England’s Charlotte Thomas. “I have heard so much about this event before from the girls playing in it and I was super-excited to come this year. It exceeded all my expectations,” said Boutier.
A closing 78 - nine shots more than her excellent effort on Saturday - left Kylie Henry having to settle for a share of 36th spot on three-over, one ahead of Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew (75).