It’s not just Carnoustie and what happened there in the 1999 Open Championship that makes Paul Lawrie think about Jean Van de Velde, writes Martin Dempster.
Earlier that year in Doha, the pair fought out the Qatar Masters, with Lawrie claiming victory on that occasion as well before winning the same event in 2012 – the other year he played in the Ryder Cup.
“It’s always nice to come back to a place where you’ve done well before,” said the Aberdonian as he prepared to be among no fewer than 10 Scots flying the Saltire in this year’s event. “Whenever you drive up you get nice feelings because you think back to the times that you’ve played well and the times that you’ve won.
“In 1999, I had a long lay-off in the winter with a knee injury and didn’t play an awful lot of golf. This was my second event of the year, I missed the cut the week before, got here early and did a lot of work over the weekend.
“I putted really nice, played lovely, and it gave me the confidence to do well that summer. It’s amazing how it was Jean in the final round here as well as Carnoustie, people forget that. It was a great week.”
In addition to those two victories, Lawrie led going into the final round two years ago only to close with a 78 to finish joint 13th behind Branden Grace.
“I’ve had some nice weeks here,” he added. “It blows quite a bit round here and I’ve always been pretty comfortable at knocking the ball down and taking a bit of speed off my swing. My swing is a little slower than some guys, so knock-down shots and punch shots, I cope with those quite well.”
Among those joining Lawrie in the event, which has a new slot this season, is fellow Aberdonian Richie Ramsay, who is on the mend after sitting out last week’s tournament in Oman due to illness.
“It was a strong case of the flu,” he said. “I had shivers, aching muscles and headaches. It wasn’t good but I’m feeling much better. I didn’t start practising here until Tuesday, so I had a full week to recover.
“My appetite is back, which is a good sign, and I’m really looking forward to getting out and playing. I appreciate being healthy and having clubs back in my hand. I feel in a good place and that will show in my golf.”
Also in the field are David Drysdale, Stephen Gallacher, Scott Jamieson, Marc Warren, Bradley Neil, Connor Syme, Grant Forrest and Clarke Lutton.