Tuesday 26 March 2019

Lawrie tries to practise way out of luckless 'perfect storm'

Peter Lawrie during the second round of the Dubai Desert Classic
Peter Lawrie during the second round of the Dubai Desert Classic

Karl MacGinty

PETER LAWRIE nodded towards the familiar figure toiling just a few yards up the range and said: "My man out here is Jose Maria Olazabal.

"If I practise more than him, I know I'm practising hard," Lawrie added. "And I've been on the range far more than he has recently."

The Dubliner has the blisters to prove it. He's been going through six golf gloves a week in a relentless dawn-to-dusk bid to get his game and career back on the rails.

Lawrie's won €5.5m-plus prize money since bursting onto the European Tour as 'Rookie of the Year' in 2003. After clinching the 110th and final Tour card for 2014 with a feisty 18th place in Perth last October, he's missed six straight cuts this season.

Indeed, Lawrie has picked up just two cheques in a nightmarish run of 16 tournaments since June's Irish Open. The problem's clear. Lawrie's lost his trademark accuracy off the tee. He used to find the short grass over 70pc of the time but this season has hit just 38pc of fairways, a catastrophic decline for a player of modest length.

CONSISTENCY

"I masked my consistency over the last three years by hitting three-wood on a lot of holes," he admits.

"I just can't get away with that anymore and hope to compete. I have to hit my driver.

"Yet I've struggled a lot with the driver. I was hitting a cutty fade with it just to keep the ball in play," adds Lawrie. "That's no use on the courses we play today."

Lawrie insists the changes he's making with new coach Jamie Gough are minor.

"I'm 40 this year and I'm certainly not going to find the length of Rory McIlroy. I'm looking for a stronger flight and just to hit it a little bit further and more consistently. There are a few things in there but I'm struggling to bed them in."

With each cut, pressure mounts. "Career-wise, it's like being hit by the perfect storm," says the father of four. "I never expected to encounter anything like this.

"In six months, I've made nothing. That's the reality. I'm a businessman. I'm out here pursuing a career I really enjoy but I have to measure income against expenditure and one's certainly outweighing the other."

Lawrie used to fly business class between events but yesterday made the nine-hour trip from Dubai to Johannesburg for the Joburg Open in economy. Other financial realities must be faced if his sterile run persists.

Irish Independent

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