This grand champion has his sights set on St. Andrews, the 150th Open


Paul Lawrie is always doing something. In fact, the Aberdeen, Scotland native has his fingers in so many pies, those fingers are likely covered in a permanent layer of tallow crust.

“I’d rather have that than just sitting around doing nothing,” the 53-year-old said of the many activities that engage, energize and excite him.

Management, mentoring, organization of events, organization of tournaments? You name it, Lawrie does it. He still finds time to play himself too.

Although he’s very much engaged in competing on the golden oldies scene these days, the opportunity to join the best in the world at the 150th Open Championship in St. Andrews in July couldn’t be missed.

Lawrie, who gave the Sandwich Open a big berth last year, is certainly not one to settle for being some sort of ceremonial golfer. His decision, for example, to withdraw from the European Tour (now known as the DP World Tour) was based on the cold, harsh reality that he was not competitive enough.

The Old Course, along with the crafting and we required for the links game, can be a great leveler, however.

“I’ll be at the Open,” said the winner of the 1999 Claret Jug with relish.

Paul Lawrie of Scotland in action during the pro-am event ahead of the NBO Oman Golf Classic on February 14, 2018 in Muscat, Oman. (Photo by Andrew Redington / Getty Images)

“Some of the sites, with their length, there’s no getting around it anymore. I’m not decrepit or totally gone, but on the Old Course I can scuttle it a bit more. I can’t wait to be there, ”he said.

The last time the Open was played in the Cradle of Gaming, in 2015, Lawrie and fellow Scotland member Marc Warren were in the midst of the action.

“But the third round was the killer,” he recalls. “I played with Marc on this lap and although we both played well, we rode terribly. Neither of us fed off each other and we were left behind.

A week after this season’s big party in St. Andrews, Lawrie will compete in the Senior Open on the King’s Course at Gleneagles. He will seek some sort of redemption this year after a disappointing performance at the 2021 edition of the Over 50 Major in Sunningdale.

“It was my only really bad performance of the year and I was absolutely disgusted with the way I played, it was awful,” he reflected of the 36 holes that left him at 11 and an early return to the road. Lawrie played alongside his famous compatriot Colin Montgomerie during those two rounds, but instead of feeding off all of Monty he worked hard.

“I’m still having a hard time playing with Monty a bit,” said Lawrie of a man who has the kind of commanding presence that was once the Colossus of Rhodes reserve. “In my day he was probably the best Scottish player and every time you play with him you feel a bit under the cosh.”

Now he knows what golf writers feel when they have to ask Monty for a quick note after he’s only putted three shots.

Away from his own golf outings, Lawrie’s tireless efforts to develop talent and provide playing opportunities for others in his homeland continue to support him. His own Tartan Pro Tour, which started in 2020 to fill the vast void created by the ravages of the pandemic, gets better and better as the management side of things, aided by their own experiences at the highest level, has led to many pearls of wisdom pouring out. There was also the weird you-know-what kick too.

“I have been a player, I know how difficult it is when you are not playing well and I like to put my arm around them,” he added. “But sometimes I like to give them a little pleasure because I had that with Adam Hunter (his late trainer).

“Adam was able to talk to me and say whatever he wanted. You need it as a player. You don’t need a “yes” man.

Paul Lawrie kisses the Claret Jug after winning the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie.

As for the growing stature of this aforementioned Tartan Pro Tour, which had a program of 15 events in 2021? Now, Lawrie has every right to blow the trumpet.

“It’s a great job,” he said of this nascent development circuit which offers valuable invitations to a range of European Challenge Tour events. “You can see some of the cash prizes that we’re putting together. I mean, Kieran Cantlay took home $ 17,000 and a half for dominating our Order of Merit. It’s phenomenal what we’ve done for these players in such a short period of time.

May this continue for a long time.

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