Paul Lawrie aims to 'scuttle it' around St Andrews in 150th Open
Paul Lawrie may have just turned 53 and now plays a lot less than he used to, but that doesn’t mean to say he’s sitting on his backside at home in Aberdeen.
Not when he has players to manage and mentor. Not when he’s trying to keep the momentum going with his Tartan Pro Tour. And not when he has two huge events coming up in 2022 on home soil.
“I’ll be at The Open,” said Lawrie, who sat out the 2021 edition at Royal St George’s, of the event’s 150th staging on the Old Course at St Andrews in July. “Then there is the Senior Open at Gleneagles the following week, so it’s a great two weeks for me.”
It will be Lawrie’s sixth appearance in the Claret Jug event at St Andrews and, though driving lots of greens like Bryson DeChambeau is being tipped to do won’t be on the cards, the 1999 winner is “looking forward” to being part of the milestone occasion.
“Some of the venues, with the length they are, there’s just no way I can get it around anymore,” added Lawrie, who brought the curtain down on his European Tour career in the 2020 Scottish Open after making 620 appearances and racking up eight up title triumphs.
“But I’m not decrepit or totally gone and, on the Open courses, I think I can get it round no bother. Obviously it’s links ground, so the scoring will be pretty good if the weather is nice, I would imagine, and I can scuttle it a bit more than you can when it’s through the air.”
In 2015, when the world’s oldest major was last played at the Fife venue, Lawrie opened with rounds of 66-70 to sit third, two shots behind leader Dustin Johnson at the halfway stage.
“I played with Marc Warren in the third round and, although we both played well, we putted terribly,” he recalled of the home pair dropping out of contention before ending up in a share of 40th spot behind Zach Johnson.
“Neither of us fed off each other well and struggled on the greens and got left behind. Saturday was a killer.”
The Senior Open is being held at Gleneagles for the first time, with Lawrie keen to make amends for the bitter disappointment of missing the cut by six shots at Sunningdale last year in his second appearance in that event.
“My only really poor performance last year was the Senior Open,” he said of shooting scores of 75-76 at the Surrey venue in the company of fellow Scot Colin Montgomerie. “I was absolutely gutted the way I played. I was absolutely awful.
“I played with Monty and I still struggle to play with him a little bit. In my era, he was probably the best Scottish player and wherever you play with him you feel a wee but under the cosh playing with him. But I played poorly so I am looking for a better performance at Gleneagles.”
Following an announcement last month, 2022 will also see Lawrie, through his Five Star Sports Agency, act as tournament promoter for the Farmfoods Scottish Challenge at Newmachar in May, in addition to hosting the Scottish Senior Open in September at a venue to be confirmed.
Add in looking after a stable of players that is headed by European Tour winner David Law and also now includes two-time LET champion Kylie Henry, as well as overseeing the Tartan Pro Tour, and it’s almost as though Lawrie has been handed a new lease of life.
“I made a conscious decision a few years ago to play a bit less. I felt a bit disillusioned with the travel, I was enjoying being home,” he said. “When we took over the golf centre here (on the outskirts of Aberdeen) in 2012, I was playing full time. I’ve slowly stepped back from playing.
“I still want to play senior golf, you’re always competitive. I feel as though I can beat them now and again. But the main tour, there was no way my body could hit enough balls to compete. So I decided to step away.
“I enjoy managing the players, talking to them, playing with them, doing some short-game work with them. I’ve been a player, I know how difficult it is when you’re not playing well.
“And I enjoy putting my arm around them, chatting to them. Sometimes I enjoy giving them a bit of a ticking off. Because I had that with Adam Hunter (his coach at the time he won The Open at Carnoustie), as you know.
“He was able to speak to me and say what he wanted. You need that as a player. You don’t need a ‘yes’ man. So I enjoy all aspects of it. I think it’s working, I’m enjoying doing it. I’d rather have that than sitting about doing nothing.”
Launched in 2020 to provide playing opportunities for Scottish-based professionals as third-tier circuits around Europe were shut down by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Tartan Pro Tour comprised 12 events last year at leading venues around Scotland.
‘The Tartan Pro Tour is just doing a great job for all the young boys,” said Lawrie. “You can see some of the prize money we’re putting up; I mean, Kieran Cantlay won 17-and-a-half grand on the Order of Merit!
‘It’s phenomenal, what we’re doing for these players in such a short space of time. I’m enjoying the fact that they all give us great feedback, they enjoy it. And they’re all getting beer (through a tie up with St Andrews Brewing Co)! What’s not to like?,” he added, laughing.
“Little things like that, when you’re a player, you want to be appreciated, want tournaments to look after you, to be there for you.”
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