Paul Lawrie has vowed he won’t be driven off Twitter despite being trolled by “idiots” through golf-related posts on the social media site that the Aberdonian freely admits “get under my skin”.
In the latest example of some of the ill-judged comments Lawrie has had to put up with, someone suggested to him on Twitter at the weekend that he should “step up” and bring the British Masters to Scotland on the back of Ian Poulter, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood having hosted it over the last three years.
Lots of people were quick to jump to the major winner’s defence, pointing out that he has already played his part through his junior foundation in the North-East, supporting up-and-coming Scottish professionals and putting his name to the Paul Lawrie Match Play on the European Tour over the past three years.
“When people message me to say it is time for me to step up, it gets under my skin,” admitted Lawrie, speaking at St Andrews as he prepared for this week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
“When I challenged him on it, he backed down, but I get a lot of people coming to me saying I can’t believe how many idiots you have to put up with. I seem to have a lot of these boys following me. It is just frustrating I can’t say what I want to say. Kids follow me on Twitter.”
Rory McIlroy, the star attraction in this week’s $5 million event, which also takes place at Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, came off Twitter earlier this year following a spat with former US PGA champion Steve Elkington, saying he regretted reacting to a jibe aimed at him by the controversial Australian.
“I stopped a couple of times. But this time I decided to keep going,” added Lawie in reply to being asked if he’d thought of shutting down his feed. “There are a lot of people I like on Twitter. I like answering the questions people send me. There are a couple of Rangers supporters [Lawrie is an Aberdeen fan] who I have banter with back and forth.”
It was on Twitter that an American journalist lit blue touchpaper in the countdown to next year’s Ryder Cup as he predicted the US would enjoy “blowouts” in that event over the next decade on the back of a thumping Presidents Cup win over the International side last weekend.
“Absolutely,” said Lawrie when asked if he felt that sort of comment would fire up European captain Thomas Bjorn and his players for the contest at Le Golf National outside Paris. “I saw what the guy said and it was very strange. I noticed Paul McGinley – or was it Darth Monty – messaged back saying they hadn’t won over here since 1993.
“We have some great players, too, and it will be a hell of a Ryder Cup in Paris. I have never played at home, but the players tell me it is that little bit easier when 90 per cent of the crowd are on your side as opposed to what I was used to in the two matches I played.”
Lawrie, of course, was the first winner of the Dunhill Links event when it changed to its current format in 2001 and he is pleased to see it still going strong, with actor Jamie Dornan and former heavyweight boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko among the amateurs taking part this time around.
“The first year some of the press and some of the stuff that came out wasn’t exactly complimentary, but the players never understood that,” said Lawrie. “I mean [Aberdeen Asset Management CEO] Martin Gilbert picked the ball out of the hole for me when I won. What other sport can you do that in an event as big as this? I think it’s pretty cool and everyone’s grown to it after the first few years.”
Lawrie, who has now fixed up a five-day appointment with a leading foot specialist in Germany next month to see if he can sort the problem that forced him to withdraw from last week’s British Masters, is playing for the first time this week as the new Gleneagles Hotel touring professional.
Lawrie’s foundation will benefit from the arrangement and he will be playing at the Perthshire resort in the upcoming Scottish PGA Championship if he doesn’t get into next week’s Italian Open, for which he is currently on the reserve list.