Golf: Paul Lawrie hands Girls’ Championship a lift

Paul Lawrie has given young golfers a lift. Picture: AP
Paul Lawrie has given young golfers a lift. Picture: AP
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PAUL Lawrie, who faces Justin Rose in the opening round of the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona tomorrow, has followed up his new backing of the Scottish Boys’ Championship by announcing that his Foundation will also be the title sponsor of this year’s Scottish Girls’ Championship.

The agreement with the Scottish Ladies Golfing Association, which comes hot on the heels of the one signed by the Aberdonian with the Scottish Golf Union, covers the event at Crail’s Craighead Links on 17-21 July, three months after the boys’ equivalent takes place at Murcar Links.

“I am very pleased that the Foundation is able to support such a great event,” said Lawrie, who also sponsors the Scottish Schools’ Championships. “National championships are major events on the junior calendar and I am sure this sponsorship will only enhance what is already a fantastic event.”

First held in 1958 for a trophy presented by legendary Scottish amateur Helen Holm, the Scottish Girls’ Championship has constantly proved a key stepping stone in the career of up-and-coming players in the home of golf.

Catriona Lambert (now Matthew), Janice Moodie and Mhairi McKay all etched their names on the trophy before going on to play at the highest level on the LPGA Tour. More recently, Vikki Laing was crowned champion a record four times in a row from 1996 to 1999 and she is now a regular on the Ladies’ European Tour.

“The SLGA is delighted that the Paul Lawrie Foundation is to sponsor the Scottish Girls’ Championship,” said chairman Shona Malcolm of the agreement with the recently-crowned Qatar Masters champion.

“Paul’s commitment to the development of young Scottish golfers is second to none, and there is no doubt that his support will enhance the competitiveness and profile of the championship.

“The players will be so excited to have the former Open champion taking an interest in girls’ golf and they could not have a better role model to follow.”

It is not the first time that Lawrie has shown a commitment to trying to encourage girl golfers through his Foundation, which he set up in 2001, two years after claiming the Claret Jug at Carnoustie.

It already runs events for girls in the north-east while Laura Murray, the Scottish internationalist from Alford, has been one of the players mentored by Lawrie in the Aberdeen area in recent years.

Watched by his mum and dad, Lawrie’s oldest son, Craig, reached the third round on his debut in the Scottish Boys’ Championship at Dunbar last year. He will be in the field again this year and will be joined by his brother, Michael, if he survives the handicap ballot.

Lawrie is aiming to be present throughout the boys’ event on 9-14 April, but will be unable to do likewise for the Scottish Girls’ Championship as it takes place at the same time as the Open Championship at Royal Lytham.

Meanwhile, Lawrie and fellow Scot Martin Laird are on a collision course after finding themselves in the same quarter of the draw for the first WGC event of the season, the $8.5 million Accenture Match Play at Dove Mountain.

Based on their world rankings, the pair are in the bottom half of the Sam Snead bracket, which means they could meet in the third round.

If Lawrie can beat Englishman Rose, he’ll then come up against either Bill Haas, last year’s FedEx Cup champion who is heading into the event on the back of a play-off win in the Northern Trust Open, or Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa.

Arizona-based Laird launches his title bid against big-hitting Spaniard Alvaro Quiros, with the winner of that one then taking on world No 6 Webb Simpson or Italian Matteo Manassero.

If Laird or Lawrie is still standing in the fourth round, they could then come up against world No 2 Lee Westwood, Open champion Darren Clarke or 14-time major winner Tiger Woods as they are also in the same bracket.

In the pick of tomorrow’s first-round ties, world No 1 and defending champion Luke Donald takes on Ernie Els, who secured the final spot in the 64-man field due to Phil Mickelson missing the event to go on a family holiday.