An Interview With: PAUL LAWRIE

 

KELLY ELBIN: Thirteen years after his Ryder Cup debut outside of Boston, Paul Lawrie returns to golf's preeminent team event here at Medinah outside of Chicago. Paul, two wins, eight top 10 finishes in 2012.

Congratulations on a fantastic year and welcome back to the Ryder Cup. Must be quite a thrill.

PAUL LAWRIE: Yes, it is. It's been quite a long time. I've watched pretty much every match on the TV I was at cell particular man or last time doing some commentary for SKY Sports, but first time playing since '99. Great to be back.

KELLY ELBIN: You had a chance to play with Sergio, Rory and Graeme today. Thoughts about how that went and also on seeing the golf course.

PAUL LAWRIE: It actually went pretty poorly because Sergio and I got whipped pretty bad. We lost a bit of cash today, which was not good. But it was nice to see the course.

I was obviously pretty tired. We only got in yesterday. I'm not the best with jet lag, so I was pretty tired out there. I struggled a bit, only made a couple of birdies, but hopefully we'll play better tomorrow.

Q. Can you just talk about being in that group today? Obviously were you surprised to be with Sergio and some of the stuff that was going on there?

PAUL LAWRIE: Surprised, no, not really, because the captain asked me who I would like to kind of play with this week, and I said anyone. I think a lot of the guys would say the same thing. It doesn't matter really who you play with. I think we're here as a team.

My game is not suited to fourballs or foursomes. I think I'd be pretty easy for everyone to play with, so he's maybe just trying a few things out this morning. I don't know.

Rory and Graeme both played pretty well, and Sergio and I didn't hole any putts, so it's going to be pretty difficult.

But it was good fun. It was nice to see the course, and we had a bit of banter going around, so it was all good.

Q. Having seen the setup, do you think the setup favors the Americans, and can you see what Davis Love is trying to do out there?

PAUL LAWRIE: Well, no, I don't think really the way the course is set up favors any team. I think we've got a lot of guys on our team who are pretty long hitters, as well. If that's the reason for the no rough, I don't know.

But the greens are very good. The greens are rolling pretty fast. There's more slopes on them than I remember the last time I was here in '99. I didn't play in '06. But no, I think the golf course is how it is. I don't think it makes any difference whether there's rough or no rough.

I think there's going to be a lot of birdies out there. I think you'll see a lot of chip ins, I think, this week. There's no rough around the greens. The greens are rolling pretty pure. I think you'll see a lot of guys chipping in this week.

Q. Davis Love was talking yesterday about the difference from say 10 or 20 years ago when each other's side really didn't cross the pond all that much. You wouldn't see a lot of Europeans playing over here regularly, and that's certainly changed a lot. A lot of your teammates have homes over here, play quite a bit. American fans get to know them, as well, and support them. In the time since you've played in a Ryder Cup there's been quite a bit of difference, between '99 and now. Do you feel that difference?

PAUL LAWRIE: Well, yeah, the last time I played, no one on our team  well, Parnevik lived over here. So there was 11 of the players on the flight going out there. This time there was only three of us on the flight, and nine met us here. I don't know how many of the team actually have houses here, but I think quite a few, to be fair. So that's changed completely since the last time I played. The last time I played I think it was only Parnevik that was kind of resident here, to be fair.

So that's changed a lot, and I think as the World Golf events have came in and as the numbers changed, I think that's maybe why, fair enough.

But that's the biggest change is that more people stay here and play both tours, as opposed to staying at home and playing both tours. I think it's easier to stay in America if you're a member of both tours.

Q. Do you think team chemistry, the bonding, the kinship suffers a little bit because of the fact that you guys don't see each other and much and you don't travel over and that sort of thing?

PAUL LAWRIE: No, I think we see each other all the time. I think with the World Golf events and the majors and the big events in Europe and over here, everyone here anyway.

We had a good bit of fun last night in the team room. If you'd seen us last night, you certainly wouldn't think that it's damaged any; team spirit in our camp has always been brilliant. It's always been fantastic. Everyone gets on this week. Everyone is there to help everyone out. So I don't see it hurting us one bit, no.

Q. Related to the previous question, given your return to form and as you mentioned the amount of Europeans who are now based in the States, could you ever foresee a time when you rejoin the U.S. Tour and lived over here, and if not, why not?

PAUL LAWRIE: No would be the answer to that question, and the main reason being that I think the foundation that we have back home, I still  a lot of my time is spent on that.

I'm very much a home boy. We love living where we live. We have all our family and friends. Had it been sort of 10, 12 years ago, then, maybe.

But now, 43 years of age, and I want to live in Aberdeen; I want to be home in Aberdeen on a Sunday night, not going back to a country that's not where you were born.

So I think the way we have it at the moment, I'm Top 50 in the World Rankings, I get to play the World Golf events, I get to play the majors, and I get to stay home. So it's a perfect combination for me.

Q. For a team event, there are many years where invariably the Ryder Cup is decided by a single match, and we saw last year with Graeme and Hunter, Philip Walton and Jay Haas, a long list of it. Would you like to be in that position to be there  Jim Furyk said earlier that you feel responsible when you're on the losing end as he was against Paul McGinley. Would you like to be in that situation?

PAUL LAWRIE: Again, I think whatever situation you find yourself in this week or any week, I think you've got to step up to the plate. You've got to do whatever you need to do, and if it doesn't go your way, then you go home and forget about it as quickly as you can.

I would like to think that I could handle that situation, but you don't know until you're in that situation. There's not many tournaments bigger than this. So some guys in positions have done pretty well in that situation and some haven't.

It's not because they're not a good player or not a great player, it's just I would imagine it's pretty hard. You wouldn't wish to be in that position I don't suppose, but if you are, you would like to think that you could do what needed to be done. But you don't know until you get there. I would imagine it's pretty tough.

If the whole thing comes down to your game like it did with kind of McDowell, that's a pretty tough situation.

Q. Back in '99 I remember you had the honor of hitting the first tee shot. Recollect for us if you can the emotions involved there and whether or not it was something you enjoyed and something you'd be willing to put yourself forward for again.

PAUL LAWRIE: Something I enjoyed; no, to be fair. It was kind of one of those situations where after it happened and after you did it, it was quite good to do and people still remember that you did it. But during it, it was kind of pretty difficult.

But a few kind of things happened on the tee that were kind of quite funny. The referee told Colin Montgomerie that he was Scotch, and Monty said, "No, Scotch is a drink. It's a drink, it's a drink, it's a drink. And then he showed us pictures of his grandkids, the referee, which, man, I'm supposed to hit in two minutes the opening tee shot of the Ryder Cup, and this guy is showing me pictures of his grandkids. You know, it was strange, but it kind of made it a little bit of a lighthearted moment.

Would I like to do it again? If I'm first off on Friday morning, then yeah, why not. Again, it's one of these situations like if the whole thing comes down to your match, the opening tee shot, at the time you're kind of pretty nervous and it's a pretty tough situation; but if that's what the captain sees, then you'd have no problem doing it again.

Q. José María said earlier on today that Sergio being at Celtic Manor as an assistant really fired him up to get back to being there as a player. Would the same apply to you, and also, what did you learn in your stint as a commentator?

PAUL LAWRIE: Yeah, roundabout Celtic Manor time, I wasn't putting the time in that I should have been putting in. I had let my game and myself kind of go a little bit. I was thinking about winding down a wee bit, to be fair, playing a bit less.

And I think Ryder Cup was the biggest sort of  I was sitting there talking about guys hitting shots in a tournament that I wanted to play in again.

So you knuckle down and you do the work that's needed to be done. And you kind of  I got a bit of confidence from winning in Malaga at the start of last year, and things have kind of gone on.

But I think commentating there was the biggest factor. You know, you realize how big a tournament this is. You realize how huge it is.

I want to be involved at Gleneagles, so if I want to do that, I think I had to get in this team to make it easier to get in the next one. So getting in this one has been pretty big for me.

KELLY ELBIN: Paul Lawrie, thank you very much, and best of luck this week.

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