Paul Lawrie sets up 'wee chance' to land first win on his Tartan Pro Tour

Paul Lawrie, the circuit’s founder and commissioner, set up a “wee chance” to land his first win on the Tartan Pro Tour after proving to himself that he no longer simmers with anger for too long after a bad hole.

Paul Lawrie gets the 2021 Tartan Pro Tour underway in the opening round of the Montrose Links Masters. Picture: Tartan Pro Tour

The 1999 Open champion was going along nicely in the Montrose Links Masters, having birdied the fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth holes in the opening event of the season, when he drove out of bounds at the ninth to run up a double-bogey 6.

That left Lawrie fuming but only for a short time and, following birdies at the 11th and 13th on the inward journey, he opened with a four-under-par 67 at the Angus venue to sit one shot behind Jack Doherty heading into the second and final round.

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“Like a lot of the people in the field, I have not played a lot of competitive golf, but I played well today,” said Lawrie, who set up the circuit last year to provide playing opportunities for home-based players in the Covid-19 world.

“I hit a poor tee shot out of bounds at the ninth and made double. Actually, it was a really good double as I was hitting 3-iron for my fourth shot in there.

“But, apart from that, man I was never off line and I holed out pretty well, having been struggling a bit with the putter.

“I’ve been working hard on trying to improve that from six feet and in and I holed out really well, so that was a good score for me.

“There was a wee bit of a breeze and I haven’t played much competitive golf so four-under with a double, you can’t complain about that.”

Lawrie has always played with a fire in his belly and still does, but the two-time Ryder Cup player was pleased how quickly he cooled down after that blip to end the front nine.

“It’s different now,” he said. “When I played full time, no matter how good you are mentally stuff like that used to really annoy me.

“But, see now when you don’t play as much. It’s not as though I don’t have any desire. But it’s not the most important thing I do any more.

“It’s easier to get over stuff like that and, as a result of that, I was delighted with how I played, to be honest, and I’ve given myself a wee chance tomorrow.”

Doherty, a former Australian Amateur champion, carded a bogey-free effort to set the pace in the first of 12 events - double the number from last year - on the circuit.

“The first three or are full or oversubscribed,” said Lawrie. “The players are obviously liking what we are doing.

"I was playing with Neil Fenwick and Lloyd Saltman today and they were chatting about the quality of the courses and how we have managed to get some many good courses to buy into what we are trying to do.

“That’s great because we are not paying any courses; they are all giving us courtesy, so for them to do that is amazing. We are happy with what is happening and have just got to keep going.”

Ross Cameron, the Scottish PGA champion, opened with a 68 to sit alongside Greig Hutcheon and Scott Gillies.

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