Lawrie prepared to “step up to the plate”
Paul Lawrie is back in the European Tour after a 13-year absence, and ready to once again lead from the front
Thirteen years after his debut appearance at The Ryder Cup when he revelled in the cauldron atmosphere of Brookline, Boston, Paul Lawrie is thrilled to be back amongst the European fold and ready for any challenges that come his way in Illinois.
In 1999, Lawrie came into The Ryder Cup as Open Champion, having prevailed over France’s Jean van de Velde and America’s Justin Leonard after a dramatic four hole play-off at Carnoustie two months previously.
His fine form was to continue into the 33rd edition of the biennial contest in which the Scotsman formed a rewarding partnership with compatriot Colin Montgomerie to capture 2 ½ points out of four in the team formats, while a comprehensive 4&3 victory over Jeff Maggert in the singles was not enough to help Europe avoid a narrow 14 ½ - 13 ½ defeat at the hands of Ben Crenshaw and his American team.
But having coped so admirably under the strain of a vociferous home support in Massachusetts, Lawrie recognises the pressure he will be under once again but is prepared to face the music this year at Medinah, even if that potentially means the fate of the Samuel Ryder Trophy coming down to his singles encounter.
“I think whatever situation you find yourself in this week or any week, I think you've got to step up to the plate,” said the 43 year old. “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 are not many tournaments bigger than this and 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.”
After spending some time in the golfing doldrums, as Lawrie readily admits himself, a win at the Open de Andalucía in 2011 – his first victory in nine years – was a step on his road to rejuvenation that has led to a career-best year in 2012, in which the Aberdonian has won twice at the Qatar Masters in February and at last month’s Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, plus a further six top ten finishes this year that saw him claim a place in José María Olazábal’s side.
However, it was the experience of commentating for Sky Sports at The 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor that Lawrie identifies as the key turning point in his career renaissance.
“I wasn't putting the time in that I should have been putting in,” he said. “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 wake-up call; 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. 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 realise how big a tournament this is. You realise how huge it is.”