Monday 23 October 2017

The Lawrie roadshow on course for big finish in Wales

William S Callahan

DON'T be surprised if two Lawries park themselves close to the podium at Celtic Manor on Sunday.

Few in the field at this week's ISPS Handa Welsh Open are playing as well Paul Lawrie and his Irish namesake Peter.

The Scot (43) already a winner in Qatar this season, further boosted his prospects of a return to the Ryder Cup arena at Medinah next September by sharing second place with Justin Rose at last Sunday's BMW PGA.

Yet nobody struck the golf ball better at Wentworth than Dublin's Lawrie (38), not even winner Luke Donald.

He finished fourth on eight-under, seven strokes back, but had 'our' Lawrie coped better with dreadfully slow and bumpy Poa annua putting surfaces, he might well have beaten England's World No 1.

Impressively, he topped the charts for accuracy off the tee (hitting 47 of 56 fairways) and hit more greens in regulation (57) than anybody else in Europe's annual showpiece.

Boost

Yet the 122 putts he needed over four rounds at the West Course stymied the Castleknock man's bid for a second win on Tour.

So the 'Green' Lawrie should find smoother, faster putting surfaces at Celtic Manor more to his liking, while his confidence received another boost when he clinched a place at the upcoming US Open in Monday's qualifier at Walton Heath.

Yet Paul Lawrie's prospects look better this week as he draws on memories of his most recent visit to the Welsh Open in 2002, when he won in a canter.

Second only to Rory McIlroy in the Ryder Cup points list, the Scot skips the US Open to concentrate on securing his place at Medinah.

He last played Ryder Cup golf at Brookline in 1999 as Open champ. Yet a spell in the TV commentary booth during the 2010 matches at Celtic Manor helped spark Lawrie's rejuvenation over the past 20 months.

Losing over nine holes to his son Craig, then just 14, shortly after entering his 40s also gave Lawrie a start: "I was proud of my son. He's obviously starting to be a bit of a golfer, but I still didn't like getting beaten by him.

"Then I did Ryder Cup commentary and discovered I'm not really cut out for it.

"The combination of that and Craig beating me helped convince me I want to keep playing a bit longer."

Welsh Open,

Sky Sports 1, 10.30

Irish Independent

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