Lawrie looks to show his mettle at Medinah
Thirteen years on from making his Ryder Cup debut in 1999, Paul Lawrie will make his second appearance in golf’s greatest team event at Medinah Country Club this week.
Paul Lawrie, the Scot known affectionately as “Chippy” due to his immaculate short game, is currently in the form of his life, and heads to Illinois as the world’s 27th best player – the highest position he has ever occupied in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Lawrie is perhaps best known for his Open Championship victory at the expense of Jean Van de Velde at Carnoustie, which took place two months before making his Ryder Cup bow at Brookline, where he collected three-and-a-half points out of a possible five – albeit it in a losing cause.
The memory of Europe’s agonising defeat to their American counterparts still hurts Lawrie, but if he can help inspire his team-mates to victory this week, it will complete a remarkable renaissance for a man whose popularity amongst his peers is set in stone.
Here, Lawrie relives his Ryder Cup debut, assesses the chances of the two sides this year and reveals his admiration for José María Olazábal, whose two Vice Captains, Thomas Björn and Paul McGinley, give their verdicts on the qualities Lawrie will bring to the European Team…
Lawrie on ’99 at Brookline: “It’s been 13 years, but I wouldn’t say it’s unfinished business for me. We were ahead 10-6 playing the Sunday Singles, and the Americans played some phenomenal golf in the first five or six games. I think all of them were probably five and six under par. It’s just massive golf in that environment with that pressure, so they won, and rightly so.
“The atmosphere wasn’t a problem in ’99, it’s part of what it is. I loved it and had a great experience, even though the team lost, which was disappointing. But in The Ryder Cup you win or lose as a team. I think it’s a bit different than now anyway. A lot of our players play in America and have houses over there, so are friendlier with the Americans than the last time I played, so it should be fine.”
Lawrie on The 2012 Ryder Cup: “After my wins I’m going into this one as confident as I was the last time, so I can’t wait. I go into my second Ryder Cup playing nicely, hitting it lovely, so I’m looking really forward to it. Obviously Chicago is going to be quite busy and quite loud, and I think both of the teams are playing well, so we have a great chance.
“Rory winning the US PGA was huge – for a European to win the last Major was massive. But the American Team has very good players, experienced players – like we have. I don’t think it matters who is playing well or who is not before The Ryder Cup – it’s going to come down to one or two points at the end on Sunday night, I would imagine.”
Lawrie on Ollie: “I played in the Royal Trophy team which José María captained in Thailand, and had a great time. He didn’t interfere with the shots we were playing on the course, but just said he was there if you needed him.
“On a couple of days he left little notes on our lockers, thoughts for the day, stuff like that, which I thought was a great touch. He would also tell us stories about Seve. He’s a legend, every player respects him and every player will be trying to win for him, no question.”
McGinley on Lawrie: “Paul’s a tremendous achievement. I’m a huge admirer of what he’s done, how he’s returned to form the way he has done. His ability to perform under pressure is well known, and the way he played in The Ryder Cup in ‘99 in Brookline, in what was a very hostile environment, was very impressive. He brings experience as well as form, so he’s a very welcome member of the team.”
Björn on Lawrie: “You can put Paul in front of anybody in the world and he won’t be scared of going out and trying to win that point. He won’t back off one bit, he’s got great experience and that Major Championship victory in the bank to draw on. For him to make the team and the way he’s played the last couple of years has been amazing to watch, and it’s a great hint to everybody that your career is not over until you actually put the shoes and the clubs away.”
Record at The 1999 Ryder Cup
United States 14 1/2, Europe 13 1/2
Day 1 Foursomes: Lawrie/Montgomerie beat Duval/Mickelson (3 & 2)
Day 1 Fourballs: Lawrie/Montgomerie (halved) with Love III/Leonard
Day 2 Foursomes: Lawrie/Montgomerie lost to Sutton/Maggert (1 hole)
Day 2 Fourballs: Lawrie/Montgomerie beat Pate/Woods (2 & 1)
Singles: Lawrie beat Maggert (4 & 3)