Saturday 16 December 2017

Reluctant early bird Lawrie off to a flyer

Bernie McGuire

While he's making a habit of snaring the limelight early on in a tournament, Peter Lawrie would rather he attracted all the attention in the later stages on a Sunday afternoon.

For a second week in succession, Lawrie has quickly put himself in contention in carding a four-under-par 68 on the opening day of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.

Fog delayed the start for two hours 40 minutes that meant Lawrie, and those in the morning half of the draw, spent the time on the range but not knowing where their golf balls were landing.

In fact, Lawrie revealed the scenario actually helped improve his rhythm during a round that included five birdies and only one bogey.

However, of more importance to the father of four is converting his good starting rounds into a hopeful second Race to Dubai success.

In nearly half of his 15 events this year, and including last week's starting 66 at the Czech Open, Lawrie has opened with a score that in turn has been lower than his following rounds.

"It's nice to shoot 66s and 68s on the first days, but I would rather that someone else was in front of me," he said.

"It takes the limelight away from me as I would rather work my way into the lead rather than be leading so early on.

"Of course, I'm going to take 66 or a 68, but I've found it puts pressure on me to then go out in the following days to match those scores.

"I just wasn't ready last week for a 66, as I had taken a fortnight off and only practised twice in those two weeks."

And while Lawrie eagerly awaits that second Tour success, he has also been encouraged by fellow Dubliner Paul McGinley to strive to qualify for this year's Vivendi Seve Trophy.

Selection for the September 15 starting event in Versailles ends at the close of next week's European Masters in Switzerland.

"Paul has cattle-prodded me and told me to get my arse into gear and make the team," said Lawrie smiling. "I would love to make the team and next week also is my favourite golf course on the Tour, and besides, I haven't played team competition since my amateur days.

"I should have made the GB&I team two years ago and I didn't play the last qualifying tournament, the Mercedes Championship, that was also guaranteed money and would have got me in the side, as Philippa just had our third baby.

"So hopefully after this good start and a decent result next week, I'll make Paul's team."

However, McGinley was not smiling yesterday after dropping four shots over his closing three holes in a score of 74.

Mark Foster holds the lead after carding a six-under-par 66 when poor light halted play. The Englishman holds a one-stroke lead from Spain's Ignacio Garrido and Tano Goya of Argentina.

Damien McGrane started birdie, eagle and then went to three under par with a birdie at 11 but dropped a shot at 13, and was two under par with three holes to play when play was halted.

Esker Hill's Shane Lowry was one over par through 14 holes and Michael Hoey two over after 13. Earlier Newcastle's Simon Thornton carded a 70.

Johnnie Walker Championships,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 3.30

Irish Independent

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