“Paul continues to be a mentor and inspiration to not only me but many young kids in golf,” said Ross Kellett after watching Lawrie win the Sunshine Tour’s Dimension Data Pro-Am at Fancourt on Sunday. “He continues to work so hard on his game and foundation, yet always finds time to help me and anyone who asks for help.”
As was the case with Kellett himself and David Law, another player mentored by Lawrie, during that event in South Africa, where he joined Nick Price, Darren Clarke and Louis Oosthuizen in winning both the Rainbow Nation’s equivalent of the Dunhill Links Championship and the Open Championship.
“Paul spent 30 minutes in the bunker with me after a practice round,” added Kellett, whose own impressive attitude was one of the reasons that Lawrie added the Motherwell man to the stable of players attached to his two golf centres in the north-east. “His work ethic and drive to win continues even after 26 years on Tour. There’s not many that can say that.”
Like Kellett, Law is gearing up for another Challenge Tour campaign. “It’s hugely inspirational to see Paul’s desire with all that he’s already achieved in the game,” said the two-time Scottish Amateur champion of Lawrie. “I played practice rounds with him on Tuesday and Wednesday last week and I could see he was playing great. Yet, he even gave me a lesson on Friday after we played, which was great of him to do mid-tournament.”
Lawrie’s 13th professional victory and first since he sealed a Ryder Cup return in style by claiming the 2012 Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles was a great effort – and not just because of the age factor. The South Africans, after all, are notoriously tough to beat on home soil and he also had former world No 1 Lee Westwood to contend with.
That Lawrie came out on top was down to all the hard work he’d put in on his game again over the winter and also that knack of being able to finish a job off shining through once more. He’d been disappointed with himself for not getting closer to Padraig Harrington after getting in contention in the Portugal Masters last October, but, with a whiff of victory in his nostrils, Lawrie wasn’t going to be denied on this occasion and sealed the success with a last-hole victory.
It has earned him spot in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in August. It has lifted him more than 200 spots up to 246th in the world rankings. It has given Lawrie’s confidence a “huge boost” for the rest of the season. Winning again on the European Tour, where he is currently having to rely on being among the top 40 all-time money earners on the circuit as his category, is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility.
What a thrill it must have been for Lawrie to taste victory again with his youngest son, Michael, looking on. The pair joined forces to finish fourth in the team event at Fancourt, a great effort given that Michael plays off scratch. Along with Craig, the oldest son, the Lawries spent time out in Abu Dhabi over the festive period, playing nine-hole matches every day. That was part of Lawrie Snr’s preparation for the 2017 campaign and that has now paid an early dividend.
It’s only natural that he has one eye on turning 50 in just under two years’ time. He could do some damage, too, on the Champions Tour and European Senior Tour. Like Miguel Angel Jimenez, though, Lawrie will still be looking to prolong his European Tour career and this success will merely have fueled that particular plan. In an interesting development, Lawrie has just left 4 Sports & Entertainment, his long-time management company, to join Westwood, Darren Clarke, Louis Oosthuizen and Danny Willett, among others, as a client of Andrew “Chubby” Chandler at International Sports Management. “I’ve known Chubby ever since I’ve been out on tour and it will be great to be working with him and the guys at ISM,” said Lawrie. “I’m coming into an interesting phase in my career. I’m convinced I’ve got a lot of good golf ahead of me and I’m looking forward to some exciting times with Chubby and ISM.”
Chandler, who will also be representing Craig, is delighted to have Lawrie on board. “Paul has been a significant figure on the European Tour for a long time and showed in South Africa what he is still capable of,” said Chandler. “He has done so much in and for golf, he’s a great guy and we’re proud to be working with him.”
Scottish golf has so many reasons to be proud of Paul Lawrie.