Paul Lawrie excited to offer 'lifeline' to Scottish pros left in limbo this season
Paul Lawrie's knack of pulling rabbits out of the hat to help fellow Scottish golfers has landed a boost that is every bit as big as his Ryder Cup team-mate, Justin Rose, launching a new ladies' series south of the border in recent weeks.
The Tartan Pro Tour, an idea that has been in Lawrie's mind for a number of years, is set to be a "lifeline" for many Scottish-based tour professionals, both male and female, facing a season of inactivity due to the Covid-19 virus.
Being held in August and September, by which time it is hoped that some of the current restrictions still in place will be eased, the circuit will comprise of six 36-hole events, including visits to Carnoustie, St Andrews and Royal Dornoch.
The aim is to have 72-strong fields at each one, with prize-money, which will come from a combination of entry fees and sponsorship, set to be a minimum of £18,000, with between £3,500-£4,000 to the winner.
The bulk of the fields are likely to be made up by players from the PGA EuroPro Tour, one of Europe's main third-tier circuits. Organisers scrapped its entire 2020 schedule early on in lockdown, leaving the likes of Lawrie's oldest son, Craig, with nowhere to play competitively this year once courses started re-opening around the UK and Ireland.
Places will also be filled by Ladies European Tour and LET Access Series players, including Michele Thomson and Hannah McCook, both part of the Five Star Sports Management & Events company, which owner Lawrie has used to be at the heart of an exciting venture.
"When the EuroPro Tour cancelled their whole season, I saw it as an opportunity to get something going in Scotland," said the Aberdonian, who, with the Staysure Tour, Europe's seniors' circuit having been binned for this year, will be playing in all six events himself, with Pollok, Rowallan Castle and the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre the three other venues.
“There are a load of golf pros with nowhere to go. Guys with nowhere to play until next March. It’s a lifeline for a pile of them – male and female – as there is very little for the girls too at the moment.
"My oldest son, Craig, has a EuroPro exemption. He’s been there for the last five years but, as soon as they cancelled their season, that was him with nowhere to play. There’s 25-30 Scots on the EuroPro alone, so they are mega-excited about this opportunity."
The Tour begins at Carnoustie, the scene of Lawrie’s greatest triumph in the 1999 Open, on 5-6 August with the Carnoustie Challenge over the Championship Course at the Angus venue.
Next up will be the rescheduled Paul Lawrie Golf Centre Scottish Par 3 Championship presented by Farmfoods in Aberdeen on 8-9 August. Also on a championship course, the Royal Dornoch Masters presented by Gym Rental Company then takes place on 7-8 September.
The Pollok Open presented by Blue Group follows on 10-11 September, with the Jubilee and New Courses then staging the St Andrews Classic presented by Cloudcube on 15-16 September.
The 2020 schedule concludes with the Rowallan Castle Championship on 23-24 September and the winner of an Order or Merit will receive some Challenge Tour invitations.
“We’re looking to have a bigger schedule next year but we’ll see how we go with these six events first," added Lawrie, who has supported events on the Tartan Tour in the past and also at grass-roots level in the amateur ranks.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while but never really sat down and said let’s do it until the EurpPro called off the season. There has never been a better time as this gives us a clean slate.
"We’re not setting up to go against the PGA, the EuroPro or anybody else. We want PGA members to play and it makes no sense for anyone to compete against another tour."
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