If you’re not pulling for Paul Lawrie to make the cut in the Aberdeen Standards Investment Scottish Open, then you probably aren’t a true golf fan. This is Lawrie’s last tournament on the European Tour, and he deserves to end his “regular” career with four rounds in his home tournament.
After 620 events, eight victories, including that famous 1999 Open Championship win, nearly €13 million in prize money, and two-Ryder Cups, the 51-year-old Scot is calling time on his European Tour career. He'll still play a few senior tour events, and continue to use his Open Championship exemption as past champion.
Lawrie deserves a proper send off. Few have done as much for Scottish golf than the 1999 Champion Golfer of the Year.
Lawrie’s unselfish support for golf in his homeland, particularly his native Aberdeenshire, will be his lasting legacy. Arguably no other Scot has been as unstinting in his desire to help junior golfers and aspiring tour professionals than the man known as “Chippy.”
Through his foundation, Lawrie has helped thousands of youngsters take up this great game. He’s been instrumental in growing the Tartan Tour to help male and female professionals hone their games. He’s also set up his own 5Star Sports Agency to give young European Tour pros, like David Law, the best possible career advice.
Perhaps Lawrie’s most impressive trait is that he’s never sought personal credit for what he does behind the scenes. Nor has he upped sticks and moved to warmer climes – and better tax rules – as others would have done.
That modesty is reflected in his own assessment of his career.
“I’ve not been a great player. I’ve been decent and that’s all you can ask for.”
Eight wins including a major championship and two Ryder Cup appearances is more than decent. Lest we forget, he won three and a half points out of five on his 1999 Ryder Cup debut, and was a member of the 2012 Miracle at Medinah team, where he contributed a valuable 5&3 singles win over Brandt Snedeker. It’s a fantastic career. He will go down in history as one of the best Scots to play this royal & ancient game.
However, Father Time has finally caught up with Lawrie.
“There were a few factors in my decision,” he said. “The main one is that I don’t feel I can compete week-in and week-out at this level anymore. My back is not good. I’ve got a herniated disc and really struggle to practice. I struggle to play more than a couple days in a row. So travelling is an issue; I just can’t do it. More to the point, I don’t really enjoy it anymore. Probably most importantly, I’m really busy off the course. I’m enjoying doing that stuff more than I am actually playing at this level.”
Lawrie, who turned professional at age 16 with a five handicap, has seen much in his career since joining the European Tour in 1992. Not least what technology has done to the game.
“I would love to be young again taking advantage of the technology and the physios and all the things out there these days. Technology has been unbelievable. The driver heads have gotten bigger and bigger and easier to hit and harder to shape. The ball just goes miles. I hit it the same distance now as I did when I was in my early 20s. My body is in bits and I’m still hitting it the same distance.”
“I’ve had a great time. I’ve enjoyed it. But it's time to go.”
He does so with his head held high, a lasting legacy and his place firmly established in Scotland’s pantheon of great golfers.
(For an excellent insight into Lawrie’s career, read his autobiography, An Open Book: The Paul Lawrie Story, written in conjunction with John Huggan .)
#JustSaying: “When you get up there in years, the fairways get longer and the holes get smaller.” Bobby Locke