SINCE last hitting a golf ball in anger, Paul Lawrie has watched his beloved Aberdeen end their trophy drought and enjoyed seeing both his sons, Craig and Michael, continuing to carve out their golfing careers.
Today, in Girona, however, the former Open champion will get back to what he enjoys best. His outing in the Spanish Open at PGA Catalunya is the 45-year-old’s first since the Dubai Desert Classic at the end of January.
First troubled by a back injury then a neck problem, it has been a frustrating spell for Lawrie, a two-times winner in Spain – the 1996 Catalonia Open and the 2011 Andalucia Open.
The Aberdonian admits he is a long shot now to retain his spot on Europe’s team to defend the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in September – but that doesn’t mean he won’t be trying.
“These past few weeks have been a nightmare,” admitted the man who beat Brandt Snedeker, the FedEx Cup holder at the time, in the singles fightback in the “Miracle at Medinah”.
“I wasn’t right in the Dubai Desert Classic at the end of January and from then on it was, first, the back, then the neck. But I’ve been seeing an osteopath and a physio and I’ve had six treatments of acupuncture. My neck is pretty well 100 per cent now and I played two sets of nine holes at Deeside, 18 holes at Castle Stuart and 12 at Luffness New last week.”
While he has been strongly tipped to join Sam Torrance on Paul McGinley’s backroom team at Gleneagles, Lawrie has not given up just yet on his playing prospects. At the same time, he is looking at a wider picture as he makes his return.
“I would have to go on an unbelievable run to qualify for the team automatically, although I’m not saying I can’t do it,” he added. “But, while people keep talking about the Ryder Cup, it’s not just the Ryder Cup. I reckon I’ve got ten years in me. Look at [Miguel Angel] Jimenez. He has shown you can still do it when you’re in your 50s.
“I’m not going to stop if I don’t get into the Ryder Cup team.”
Meanwhile, Pablo Larrazabal has called on everyone to wear black for today’s first round as a mark of respect to the late Iain McGregor.
Annan-based McGregor, a Zimbabwean, died on Sunday after suffering a heart attack while working for Alastair Forsyth in the final round of the Madeira Islands Open.
Larrazabal was one of many players to criticise the decision to complete the tournament – which had already been reduced to 36 holes due to numerous weather delays – and is trying to organise his own tribute.
“In honour of an awesome man and a great caddie I want to promote the black colour for all caddies, players and fans on Thursday,” the Spaniard wrote on Twitter.