Lawrie keeps cool to book his ticket for Dubai finale
AT a time when Irish golfers seem to knock off Major titles like coconuts in a fairground shy, other splendid personal achievements may be eclipsed.
Peter Lawrie's share of fourth place at the UBS Hong Kong Open is a case in point.
This may pale alongside the recent world-conquering feats of Rory McIlroy but the Dubliner performed with aplomb under intense pressure at Fanling.
Lawrie (38) started with a target on his back yet produced, on demand, arguably the best performance of his frustrating season.
His fourth place at May's BMW Championship yielded €225,000, nearly four times more than yesterday's €66,411 cheque, but he had more to lose in Hong Kong.
Lawrie lay 60th in the Race to Dubai after missing the cut in Singapore, and only the top 60 go to this week's $8m European finale, the DP World Tour Championship.
Banishing all thoughts of the consequences, Lawrie rigorously applied himself on a course that a jaded McIlroy and wayward Padraig Harrington clearly found too tricky to handle as they missed the cut.
After opening with two solid 68s, Lawrie propelled himself into contention with Saturday's three-under 67. He added an impressive 66 yesterday to post four rounds in the 60s for the first time in 19 months.
"I haven't missed (the season's climax) since the Race to Dubai started in 2009, so it would have been very disappointing not to make it now," he explained. "I came in here with a lot of pressure on me – well, I sure put it on myself anyway.
"But I'm really happy with the way I handled myself," added Lawrie, now 54th in the money list. Six Irish will play in Dubai: Lawrie, McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Shane Lowry, Michael Hoey and Padraig Harrington.
After scraping through the halfway cut at the Talisker Aussie Masters, McDowell played Royal Kingston Heath in six-under (67, 71) to finish tied eighth. Winner Adam Scott left Ian Poulter five behind with his closing 67.
Meanwhile, Henrik Stenson bagged his first win in 42 months at the SA Open, despite a mid-round wobble in yesterday's 71. A 75 left Gareth Maybin tied 55th and 111th on the money list.
Stenson made hard work of clinching his seventh title on the circuit after standing four clear of the field five holes into the final round. When he followed a bogey on the next with a double bogey at the short ninth, he was back into a tie with George Coetzee.
But the Pretoria golfer, yet to win on the European Tour after 18 top-10 finishes, dropped a shot at the 183-yard 15th and the Swede, saving par from sand there, birdied the next two to close out the victory.