Paul Lawrie leads tributes for top coach Adam Hunter

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ADAM Hunter, the man who coached Paul Lawrie when the Aberdonian became Open champion at Carnoustie in 1999, passed away last night after losing his battle with leukaemia.

The 48-year-old, a European Tour winner before carving out his coaching career, died in the Beatson Cancer Centre in Glasgow, where he was visited earlier in the week by Douglas Connon, chairman of the Scottish Golf Union.

Just under a year ago, Hunter was appointed as the head coach of the Scottish Under-16s by the SGU, having spent six years prior to that as a Scottish Golf Academy coach.

Last night Connon paid tribute to Hunter, saying: “Adam was a consistent and straight man who set us all an example by his personal behaviour and how to live life. I am heartbroken as he was my friend. Our thoughts are with his lovely, caring wife Caroline and his family.”

News of Hunter’s death was broken to Lawrie after he had just finished his second round in the Portugal Masters.

He said: “I have said many times over the years Adam Hunter was magnificent for me right from the first day we hooked up together way back in 1998.

“His work rate and dedication to my golf was unbelievable. He was always there for me and I will miss him so much.

“It would be impossible to tell you how much he meant to me. Nothing was too much trouble. He travelled with me for months after The Open in 1999 as much as my mate as coach. I learned so much from him.”

Hunter, who beat Open champion Darren Clarke in play-off to win the 1995 Portuguese Open at Penha Longa, started to feel unwell with earache at the end of 2009 and was subsequently diagnosed with leukaemia. Despite the illness, he remained devoted to his job and was still sending emails from his hospital bed over the past few weeks.

Born in Glasgow, he played for Scotland at boys’ and youths’ level before heading to America, where he had a spell at Virginia College.

After turning professional in 1984, he cut his teeth on the Tartan Tour, winning the Northern Open at Royal Aberdeen in 1987, when he was attached to Sandyhills.

On the European Tour, he failed to hold on to his card as a rookie in 1985 but went back to the Qualifying School and secured his card again.

He then lost it again and didn’t return until 1990, after which he produced a string of consistent performances, culminating in his victory over Clarke in Portugal. that helped him finish a career-best 63rd on the European Tour Order of Merit.

After coming off the Tour, Hunter quickly established a reputation as a top coach, enjoying his finest hour in the company of Lawrie at Carnoustie 12 years ago.

Hunter established his own Golf School at Newton Mearns on the outside of Glasgow but used Kingsfield near Linlithgow more recently to work with Lawrie and his other pupils.