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Home No longer bothered, Paul Lawrie gets himself back on track

You have to respect Paul Lawrie. Not only has be found a way to climb his way back near the top in the golf world, he did it in his own way. In 1999, the Open Champion was on top of the world. “I had quite a nice spell from '99 to 2002, when I was in the Top10 of the Order of Merit three of those four year,” Lawrie recalled as he achieved his highest world ranking of #29 (July 2002). But nothing lasts forever and as Bob Dylan once sang, “The times they are a changin’.” He played in the 1999 Ryder Cup, which came down to Justin Leonard holing a long putt to be the difference for Ben Crenshaw’s team. Lawrie would go a long time between wins and playing in the Ryder Cup again. 

He won the 2002 Wales Open at Celtic Manor and then endured a dry spell that lasted what must have felt like an eternity for him. It wouldn’t be until March of 2011 that he would find the winner’s circle at the Open de Andalucia de Golf. He wouldn’t have to wait nearly as long to do it again. The Scot won the Commercialbank Qatar Masters back in February and became the second oldest winner in the history of the European Tour. “No, that can't be right, is it? Second oldest in history?” he questioned after being informed of his conquest. In May of 2012, he finished second at the BMW PGA Championship and revealed he was skipping the US Open in order to keep himself fresh for the BMW International Open. “If you go to the U.S. Open, it means you can't play BMW because your schedule is a bit difficult,” he said back in May. “I made the decision, I knew some people wouldn't like it but it's the best for me, so you've got to do it.” The method to the madness was to qualify through points for Europe’s Ryder Cup team.

Before he teed it up at Gleneagles in the Johnnie Walker Championship, he had accomplished one of his goals. “I've been grinning like a Cheshire cat; so it's hard not to be happy,” he said in response to making the bi-annual event. “I don't think you can underestimate how much the Ryder Cup kind of plays on players' minds. I mean, it's hard to not think about it. You're looking at the list all the time and wondering if someone is going to pass you, whereas the start of the year you're just playing and walking about with a smile on your face. It's so huge the Ryder Cup, I wanted it to badly.”

Lawrie went on to take care of business last week, which means in the last 15 months, he has won three times. “Obviously with The Ryder Cup getting out of the way, I played really well and won the tournament. With Rory (McIlroy) winning the PGA (Championship) was huge; for a European to win the last major was massive, and I go into my second Ryder Cup playing nicely, hitting it lovely, so looking forward to it.”

One of the differences between the 1999 Lawrie and the 2012 version is actually something he came to grips with some time ago. “I put that to bed a long, long time ago, even before I started playing good again. I put that to bed,” he said. “That has not bothered me for a long time now, probably five or six years maybe, seven years until the last time it kind of bothered me a wee bit. You come to realize that you've just got to do what you do, and if people give you recognition, they give you recognition and if they don't, there's nothing you can do. None of us are perfect.  We kind of all make mistakes. I get on, I practice hard, I do my thing, I work hard on my game.  And if people don't want to recognize that I'm not a good player, then there's much I can do about it. It used to bother me a bit but not anymore.” Lawrie’s win at the 2012 Johnnie Walker Championship moved him to #30 in the world rankings, almost to where he was in 2002. 

His year isn’t finished yet and the Ryder Cup is a reward for his hard work. “We are going to be facing a big opponent. Anything can happen,” said captain Jose Maria Olazabal. “You know, they will have to play great. But obviously it's important to see Rory winning, Paul winning, Sergio winning.”