The spot was fixed up by Lawrie, a two-time winner of the event, through his management company, Five Star Sports Agency, which Locke joined after turning professional on the back of him finishing as the leading amateur at Carnoustie.
“We had a long chat before coming out here,” said Lawrie, who has been paired with 20-year-old Locke, as well as Swede Robert Karlsson, in the opening two rounds in Doha. “He was in Morocco for three weeks recently and made two of three cuts but felt he didn’t play that well. He needs to get his head round the fact he’s a tour pro now.
“It doesn’t matter how pretty it is, you have to get it in the hole. He’s getting wound up about not hitting it his best and not playing the way he wants. I got it through to him that he shouldn’t worry about where he’s hitting it as long as you get it in the hole.
“I said to him ‘as long as I’m not out of bounds, I can make a birdie no matter how bad a shot I hit’. He took a while to get his head round that but he went out, hit a few balls and came back in and said ‘you’ve nailed it, I was getting too upset about where and how I’m hitting it but that’s not the big picture’.
“I’ve been through all that and that’s where I can help. He’s putting a lot of pressure on himself to perform. He got all the nice comments after The Open and it’s understandable that he’s struggling a bit because he’s not playing the way he wants to play. It will come, though.”
For the second week running, the field contains 11 Scots, with Lawrie and Locke being joined in the £1.75 million event by Bob MacIntyre, pictured, David Drysdale, David Law, Liam Johnston, Scott Jamieson, Marc Warren, Stephen Gallacher, Grant Forrest and Richie Ramsay.
Reflecting on his success in the event, Lawrie said: “Both wins were different. In 1999, I had an operation in the winter of 1998, played terribly in Dubai the week before. I came here early, did a pile of practice and a pile of work.
“I had recently joined up with Adam Hunter as my coach, so it was a huge win for us two. This win gave me the confidence for what happened at Carnoustie in the summer (winning the Open Championship).
“In 2012, I was in the middle of an unbelievable run of success and good weeks. I’ve always enjoyed the course and the firmness of it. You have to shape the ball a little more than most courses. You have to be in control of your ball flight when the wind picks up. If you’re not in control and hitting little knock-down shots and hold-off shots, you’re going to be in trouble.”
The field also includes on-form American Kurt Kitayama, winner in Oman last week after making his breakthrough victory on the circuit in Mauritius earlier in the season. “It hasn’t quite sunk in yet,” admitted the Californian. “I need to ride the wave. I’m playing well. When I won in Mauritius I continued that into the SA Open. Hopefully I can do the same here.”