IT HAS taken him a good few months to build up the courage but, egged on by colourful character Ian Poulter, Paul Lawrie is ditching his traditional look this week to unveil a new sartorial streak.
He is wearing tartan trousers in today’s first round at Augusta and also has a pair of white ones in his wardrobe for the season’s opening major. “I played with Poulter, who I always thought looks really smart when he wears tartan, in China,” said Lawrie. “He said, ‘I can’t believe you don’t wear tartan trousers, you’re Scottish and you’re their top player. People would love it’.”
That was towards the end of last year and Lawrie almost took the bait in the season-ending Dubai World Championship before waiting until he feels confident about carrying off the look.
“I’ve lost half a stone,” he added. “I’m back to where I want to be weight-wise. I’ve even got white troosers.” His youngest son Michael, who is here this week, isn’t so keen on them. “He thinks I look like an idiot in white troosers – but he thinks I’m an idiot anyway,” joked the Aberdonian.
Twelve months ago, Lawrie marked his return to the Masters after an eight-year absence by opening with a 69 to lie fourth. He was still in the top ten heading into the final round before finishing joint-24th.
The 44-year-old hasn’t struck a ball in anger since tying for 58th in the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral a month ago. He feels the lay-off has done him good, though, and so does leading golf psychologist Bob Rotella.
“I think the wee break is just what I needed,” said Lawrie. “You’re never sure how having that time will work out. But I had a wee chat with Bob Rotella and he said it might be the best thing.
“I’ve never ever had three weeks when I’ve hardly hit a shot or swung a club but I don’t feel rusty. I feel sharp, so here’s hoping it will be alright.
“I feel like I’ve not had a break since the Ryder Cup. Poulter, [Graeme] McDowell all those boys had eight or nine weeks off at the start of the year. I kept playing but maybe that four weeks was enough just to say ‘let’s get going, let’s get back to business’.
“Maybe there is a tendency to over prepare for a major, I don’t know. I’m not going to say I feel I’m going to have a chance to win, but I feel good.”
A bit like the snazzy trousers, Lawrie doesn’t strike you as the sort of person who likes to have his head filled with mind games. Indeed, it is only when he is in the US that he has the occasional session with Rotella.
“I don’t need somebody to hold my hand or speak to me every week and it’s working out well,” he said.
“He tells you stories about other people. You know he’s talking about you but he keeps it quite loose. I like his approach.
“It’s not lying on the couch and deep stuff. We have a laugh and a joke, he tells a few stories and then off we go. Before you know it, 30 minutes have gone by.”
While older son Craig is back home in Aberdeen, Michael has made the journey for the second year running and was able to experience one of the event’s great traditions when he was out watching his dad in a practice round.
“I pulled Michael out of the crowd to skip it across the water at the 16th, which was good fun,” said Lawrie.
SCOTS AT AUGUSTA - THE RECORD
Since Sandy Lyle won the Masters in 1988, Scots have struggled to make a major impact at the Augusta major.
1989 No player made cut
1990 No player made cut
1991 No player made cut
1992 Colin Montgomerie 37th
1993 Sandy Lyle 21st
1994 Sam Torrance tied 33rd
1995 Montgomerie tied 17th
1996 Montgomerie tied 39th
1997 Montgomerie tied 30th
1998 Montgomerie tied 8th
1999 Montgomerie tied 11th
2000 Montgomerie tied 19th
2001 No player made cut
2002 Montgomerie tied 14th
2003 Paul Lawrie tied 15th
2004 Lawrie/Lyle tied 37th
2005 No player made cut
2006 No player made cut
2007 Lyle 43rd
2008 Lyle 45th
2009 Lyle 20th
2010 No player made cut
2011 Martin Laird 20th
2012 Lawrie tied 24th