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red-hot Lawrie leads way

PETER LAWRIE performed like a true matinee idol at Wentworth yesterday as he outshone a host of superstars at the BMW PGA Championship.

The Dubliner (38) looked as laid-back as ever as he compiled a stunning bogey-free 66, the lowest of 31 career rounds on the West Course, to lead on six-under with Scotland's David Drysdale.

Yet he admitted his pulse had been racing as he set out yesterday after tapping a rich vein of form in the recent Open de Espana.

"Going down the first, I told my caddie, Brian Martin, I'd never been this nervous," Lawrie smiled. "But I played so nicely in practice, it put pressure on me to do well.

"This is a big week for me because, the way I'm playing, I know I can contend.

"My swing was all over the shop (earlier in season), but I turned the corner in Spain. Myself and my coach Brendan McDaid sort of found something there."

Lawrie, the 2008 Spanish Open champion, settled his nerves with a sweet birdie at two, then took full advantage of the forward tee at four to land an eagle three, courtesy of a two-iron to mid-fairway, followed by a soaring six-iron to four feet.

Lawrie, the father of four children under six, is blessed with a cool temperament and the tactical nous to succeed at Wentworth.

Gareth Maybin and David Higgins both shone with satisfying 70s. British Open champion Darren Clarke, Shane Lowry, Damien McGrane and Barrie Trainor all posted 71s.

Irish Independent