Paul Lawrie to hit opening shot for second time in The Open at St Andrews

Paul Lawrie has been handed the honour of hitting the opening shot in the 150th at St Andrews – 12 years after he had the same privilege on the Old Course in the game’s oldest major.

Paul Lawrie of Scotland reacts on the 18th during the Celebration of Champions Challenge at St Andrews. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.
Paul Lawrie of Scotland reacts on the 18th during the Celebration of Champions Challenge at St Andrews. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.

In what could be his last appearance in the Claret Jug event, the 1999 winner will get the action underway around 6.30am on Thursday.

The full draw will not be announced until Tuesday, but the R&A revealed Lawrie will be first out as he played alongside five-time champion Tom Watson in the Celebration of Champions.

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“It’s always nice to hit the opening shot,” said Lawrie, who will be making his 27th appearance in the event. “It’s a nice thing to be asked to do and hopefully it’ll be flat calm.

“It maybe does (have more significance because it’s 150th), but I still kind of see it as you’re a player, it’s just an opening tee shot and you want to get it on the fairway.

It’s obviously a huge occasion, a huge week, a big milestone so the more you think about it, yeah it is a big thing to do it in the 150th.

“I’m always nervous on the first tee, no matter what tournament I play I’m always nervous there. But this is more because it’s the Open and the 150th, and fortunately it’s a nice, big fairway. “Mind you I could miss any fairway however wide it is. I just chipped it down in 2010. The stand on the right looks a little closer. It’s a bit tighter, it’s not tight, but a little bit. I think we’ll pop it down there somewhere.”

The Aberdonian joked that he wouldn’t have a problem getting up for his early start. “I’m 53 so I’m wide awake at 4.30 going for a pee,” he said, smiling.

“Shouldn’t be a problem, middle of the night. I’ll be ready for 5am. It’s a pretty good draw, actually, greens will be pure, a great draw for me.”

While he returned to winning ways recently on the European Legends Tour at Trevose in Cornwall, Lawrie isn’t making any rash predictions about what he can do back playing against the young guns.

“If you’d seen my play there, then no,” he replied to being asked if there was a spring in his step. “It wasn't very good, ball striking was a bit poor. But you can get it round these courses a bit better.

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“If it was the main tour I’d be struggling. But because it’s links and the ground’s really hard…I hit it on the last there, which is not my normal shot down there.

“It’ll play shorter and hopefully we can bumble round somehow. Harder and faster the better, it’s proper links out there.

“The greens are a wee bit green, but the fairways, they’ve let them go, they’re pretty brown and it’s only Monday, we’ve a few days to go yet.”

Lawrie is flying the Saltire in the season’s final major along with David Law, a product of his junior foundation in the north-east, and Bob MacIntyre.

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