Even David Law himself admitted he didn’t quite see it coming. Not just yet anyway. The Aberdonian had missed the cut in more than half of his previous 17 European Tour starts across nine seasons and his best finish was joint-26th. In short, he was still learning his trade at the top level.
Yet, should anyone really have been surprised to see the 27-year-old make the big breakthrough by winning the ISPS Handa Vic Open on Sunday? No. Not at all, in fact. All the way through from boys’ golf, Law has shown on a number of occasions that, with a whiff of victory in his nostrils, he’s got a knack of getting the job done.
A Scottish Boys’ title triumph then two Scottish Championship successes provided proof of that in the amateur ranks. As did a brace of Northern Open victories, the first of which was landed when he was still an amateur. He then won on third-tier circuits early in his professional career.
Though slow in coming – it was his 100th event on the circuit – Law was up to the task again as he landed a first Challenge Tour win on home soil in the SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge at Macdonald Spey Valley in Aviemore last June.
“He’s always been a boy who has been able to pull off a shot or deal with what it takes down the stretch,” observed Paul Lawrie, Law’s mentor and also now his manager as part of the Five Star Sports Agency stable. “You can’t teach that. It’s just in you.”
Law came home in 31, five-under-par, at 13th Beach Golf Club. That came after he’d called a penalty on himself on the ninth green. The shot he hit into the last to set up a title-winning eagle was every bit as impressive as some of those produced by Lawrie in the heat of battle over the years.
“David looked very calm and very cool playing the 18th on Sunday,” he added. “That’s what you want a player to feel like and look like. You don’t want to look as though you are jumpy and give your opponent anything to think you might be struggling in that situation. You want to look as though you are going to win and, for me, he did on Sunday.
“It was hugely impressive in only his fifth start as a card holder. But he’s won at every level. And, when you do that, you get used to winning. When you get your chance, it doesn’t scare you. Guys who don’t win a lot can find it a scary situation, but that’s not the case with Davie.”
Lawrie’s input over a number of years has undoubtedly helped Law, a product of the 1999 Open champion’s excellent junior foundation in the north east, become the 24th different Scottish player to taste victory on the European Tour since 1972. Equally, the technical side of his game has improved since he started working with Alan McCloskey, the Bothwell Castle-based PGA professional.
“What I said to Davie from day one was that if he could just get his golf game that wee bit better technically to the point where it got him competitive, I always thought he was ahead of the curve mentally,” opined McCloskey. “Sunday was another example of that being the case. He was phenomenal coming down the stretch and it was great to see that.
“It just underlined what we had all been saying over the years. He has got a talent between the ears, there’s no question about that. He can hold himself superbly well in the heat of the battle. All that has happened really is that he’s got a fraction more technical ability to get himself into that position.
“For a while, he was struggling a bit with his long game. He couldn’t quite get himself into contention. Once he’s in contention, he’s a finisher. He’s proved that over the years, back to when he was a kid. Look how good he was coming down the last nine holes on Sunday.”
Can it be the first of many wins for Law at the top level? With a track record like his, why not. It can also have a spin-off effect as all the other young Scots beginning to make headway – the likes of Grant Forrest, Liam Johnston, Bob MacIntyre and Connor Syme – will be desperate to savour that sweet taste of top-tour success themselves.
“I can really see it snowballing. Now they are all thinking, ‘that can be me next’. That’s a great place for Scottish golf to be – it’s brilliant,” said McCloskey. Concurring, Lawrie added: “I think these new young guys are all pally – but they are also trying to beat each other, which is what you want. I had that with Al Forsyth, Gary Orr and Stephen Gallacher. We were all mates and went for a bite to eat at night. But, if one of them did well one week, I’d be like, ‘I need to beat him next week. I’m not having that’. That’s just the competitor in you and these boys have that competitive streak.”