“It has got to the point where I’m really struggling,” said the 1999 Open champion after completing his opening 18 holes in the £16,000 Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Par 3 Championship at the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre on the outskirts of Aberdeen.
While still trying his best to be competitive on the European Tour, the 48-year-old has one eye on becoming eligible for the Seniors’ circuit in 2019 and hopes a combination of medical advice and cutting back on his schedule can get him back to feeling 100 per cent again when that opportunity comes around.
“I’m fighting away and I’ll play again in Portugal,” he said of an event that gets underway three weeks on Thursday and one he’ll head into hoping to repeat the strong performance that secured a fifth-place finish last season. “Surgery won’t do any good. We talked about fusing the bones initially, but that would have left me with no movement and flexibility.
“I’ve taken four weeks off in total and I’m going to go to see a doctor in Munich who Jose Maria Olazabal has recommended. We’ll have a chat and see what we can do, but if can’t play much then I won’t and, in any case, I’ve had a good run whatever happens.”
Make no mistake, Lawrie is in no mood to quit but, at the same time, he has reached an age when wear and tear from a 25-year European Tour career – he recently clocked up his 500th appearance on the circuit – is starting to take its toll. “Next year I’m not going to play an awful lot,” he added. “I’m thinking I’ll play ten or 11 events and try to rest up so I can play more when I get to 50. The Seniors play three rounds with no cut, so I will play a bit of golf when I get to 50 in two years’ time.”
Lawrie’s opening 56 on the par-54 Devenick Course left him seven shots behind halfway leader Alastair Forsyth in the par-3 event. The two-time European Tour winner sits one ahead of Paul O’Hara after halves of 24 and 25.