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Friday 18 April 2014

Lawrie eyes one more Ryder shot

European Ryder Cup team member Paul Lawrie talks to the media with the Ryder Cup trophy on display at his press conference during the practice round of The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship

As the queue of contenders for the European 2014 Ryder Cup captaincy started to lengthen in St Andrews, Paul Lawrie seemed to be just about the only man in the Fife town yesterday who did not want the job.

The Scot might seem an obvious fit for the tournament at Gleneagles in two years' time, but having just secured Europe's most emphatic victory of a triumphant week at Medinah -- he hammered Brandt Snedeker 5&3 in the Sunday singles -- Lawrie has designs on a playing part in Perthshire rather than a leadership role.

The European Tour players' committee is expected to appoint a successor to Jose Maria Olazabal early next year, but Lawrie, who waited 13 years between making his first and second appearances in the Ryder Cup, is fired up by the thought that his third outing will come round rather sooner.

decision

"I don't know if they will ask me (to be captain) but if they did it would be a tough decision to make," said the 43-year-old.

"I'd like to think they would look at it, see I'm 27th or 28th in the world rankings and think it's not captain's time. They would know I was thinking I wanted to play in the team."

Bookmakers have made Paul McGinley, one of Olazabal's four assistants at Medinah, their 10/11 favourite to lead the side in 2014. Colin Montgomerie, the 2010 captain who has a house at Gleneagles, is being quoted at 4/1, as is Darren Clarke, another of the 2012 vice-captains.

Clarke's odds might have been shorter had he not been a ferocious critic of the Gleneagles PGA Centenary course, which will host the 2014 event, in the past. When the Johnnie Walker Championship was first held there in 2007, the Ulsterman was the most vociferous of a number of players who expressed concern over the condition of the course, particularly the greens.

After an expensive remodelling last year, Clarke commended the "massive improvements" made to the course when he played there in August.

His remarks were interpreted as a charm offensive, motivated by a desire to lead the Ryder Cup team, but Lawrie suggested that Clarke's previous remarks would not have a bearing on the captaincy decision.

"I don't see that at all," said Lawrie when it was put to him that Clarke had already blown himself out of contention. "It's a different course now to when Darren made those (original) comments. They have made huge improvements."

Lawrie used to sit on the committee which will make the decision, but stood down recently. However, he made it clear that he expected the captain to be one of the four Medinah vice-captains -- Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thomas Bjorn were the other two -- a prediction that would appear to rule out Montgomerie. Sandy Lyle, a 25/1 shot, might not fancy his chances either.

Martin Kaymer, who holed the putt that kept the trophy in European hands, said that all of Olazabal's assistants had performed superbly in Medinah and were capable of stepping up.

"It would be unfair to pick one," said the German. "It was a great journey that week and all four vice-captains should be captains at one stage."

Lawrie, who won the Dunhill Links event in 2001, will have his 17-year-old son Craig, a scratch golfer, as his amateur partner when he plays his opening round of this year's tournament at Carnoustie. He also revealed that the abuse he was given by some in the Medinah galleries had been difficult to block out, but victory was all the sweeter because of it.

"It's pretty tough when someone is screaming and blowing in your ear that you're a loser, but there's not much you can do, which makes it all the more satisfying when you're standing there on Sunday night with the Ryder Cup in front of you and they're not." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Dunhill Links Championship,

Live, Sky Sports 2, 1.30

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