1999 British Open Champions Interview - Paul Lawrie

By Golf Channel NewsroomJune 22, 2001, 4:00 pm
Q. Paul, how does it feel?
Paul Lawrie:Pretty damn good, gotta say. Obviously when I was in here you know I didn't think that 6 over had a chance. Um, I wasn't wishing ill on Jean, but he obviously made a couple of mistakes coming in and I played lovely in the play-off. To birdie the last two holes here in the play-off here to win is obviously a fairy story.
Q. Where were you when Jean was playing out?
Paul Lawrie:I was on the putting green when he was playing his second shot to the last. I was hitting some balls when he was teeing off and I was hitting some putts when he was hitting his second shot in.
Q. And did you see any of the stuff - ?
Paul Lawrie:No, I didn't see him doing what he did. I actually saw him - I saw him chip it in the water - saw him hit the grand stand, then chip it in the water. Everyone was telling me what was going on and your mind is racing you don't know what to think. Adam Hunter was fantastic. He got me hitting putts got me focusing on what I need to do. and he was really good, really fantastic.
Q. They always say - in fact Tiger said yesterday anybody within ten shots - we always dismiss that, saying that's nonsense. A guy ten shots behind starting the day, did you give yourself any chance at all?
Paul Lawrie:Not really. No, I couldn't see - I thought Jean would - if he played badly I thought he would get it in sort of three, four, five over. Obviously at ten shots back I didn't think I had any chance, you know, but strange things happen, especially round here, when the course is so tough.
Q. Have you managed to contact your mum and dad?
Paul Lawrie:I haven't, no. Hopefully they've watched it, but probably they won't of done- I can't get hold of my wife - obviously she has put the phone on answer machine because everybody is trying to ring her. I'll try and speak to her, hopefully in the next half hour if I can. I would imagine the phone is just red hot at home.
Q. Is your wife back at home - up in Aberdeen?
Paul Lawrie:My wife is in Aberdeen at the moment hopefully putting young Michael to bed.
Q. She is expecting again?
Paul Lawrie:No, no, no, no. We have two now - we're finished, thank God. Two is enough.
Q. Are some of your family in Spain - did you say earlier?
Paul Lawrie:My mother and my father and my brother are in Spain, yeah, on holiday.
Q. Paul, can I ask you what went through your mind when you were standing over that putt on the 18th half an hour ago?
Paul Lawrie:To win. I don't know - I was just shaking so much. I knew that obviously two putts was enough, but you don't want to miss the putt on the last green to win the Open. I stroked it pretty nice and in it popped. Just an incredible feeling - hasn't obviously totally sank in yet. Seeing this thing sitting here is just absolutely amazing.
Q. Can you talk through the second shot?
Paul Lawrie:Second shot - yeah, I had to the pin. I had to the pin at and hit a lovely 4-iron just past the pin. 1 at the last, hit an awesome 4-iron tried to knock it down a little bit to make sure it carried the water and just obviously went close. But same shot on both holes, so I knew it was gonna be the right club.
Q. Paul, what were your emotions when Jean was going through that on, were you watching then?
Paul Lawrie:I wasn't watching, no. I was on the putting green with Q. dam hitting some putts and I kept asking him what was going on. He just said, 'Focus on what you're doing, hit your putts, do your thing. If you get in a play-off we've got to be ready here.' When it came to the play-off I'd hit balls, I'd hit putts, I'd done some chipping. I was set to go. My focus was good. I didn't see what he was doing, no.
Q. What did you hit at and how far?
Paul Lawrie:4-iron. 1, I think I had.
Q. Paul, did you give any thought - you had a stroke - you had a stroke and the other guys were in trouble, did you give any thought to it?
Paul Lawrie:I was one ahead playing the last. I knew that Justin hadn't hit the green. Obviously when I was over my second shot I new 4 was enough to win. I tried to put a nice smooth swing on it, and off it popped close to the pin.
Q. You were not concerned about him?
Paul Lawrie:No, I just tried to focus on making four. I knew four was enough to win. Obviously it would have been even if I didn't, you know, I made 3.
Q. Is your wife at home because she didn't really think you'd got a chance at all?
Paul Lawrie:My wife is home because we have a little boy who is 7 months old. The Open is obviously very busy. She didn't want to leave him in the creche so she just stayed at home. I've been traveling home every night, so I've been seeing them at night anyway, so you know there's no real problem. She wasn't not there because she didn't think I had a chance, no.
Q. Ryder Cup to come now, I mean just talk about that.
Paul Lawrie:Ryder Cup, yeah, well obviously I don't know if that guarantees me a game or not.
Q. You are second in the table?
Paul Lawrie:All right, okay, that's nice then. Adam we're going to the Ryder Cup wee man - obviously delighted. I teed off this morning and obviously Andrew Coltart was ahead of me. I was thinking about the World Cup was picked after this week, Dunhill Cup, you know, everything was kinda going through my head. I thought, 'Go out there, forget about this, just go ahead and play.' I did that pretty well, even though I say it myself.
Q. It must have been satisfying to have the round you did regardless of...
Paul Lawrie:Well, obviously I think that's the joint best score today. I played beautifully. I holed a lot of putts, which you have to do round here. The fairways are narrow. Even the last few holes - obviously I thought if I could get it to 5-over I might have an outside chance. You know, that was - obviously even though he was well ahead of me I felt a little bit of pressure coming in. The legs were shaking a bit, the hands were going. So it was nice to finish the way I did.
Q. Paul, a Scot winning in Scotland - great support?
Paul Lawrie:Yeah, pretty nice, I must say. Especially living an hour up the road in the car. Huge thing to win the Open, no matter where it is but obviously here it is extra special for me, being close to home. Everyone was shouting me on. The play-off was just incredible; it was just a circus. Everyone was inside the ropes and everyone was shouting your name out. It is really hard to try to focus one shot at a time. But obviously, you know, what's going on, but obviously to win here was pretty special, pretty special.
Q. Paul, among other things, this Open will obviously be remembered for the debate about the set up this week. After everything you've been through, what's your view on that and some of the criticism the set-up has received?
Paul Lawrie:When I was in here earlier on, I obviously said the reason was that they got the growth thing wrong and the weather kinda rained a lot and whatever. Obviously the golf course was set up very, very tough. When 6 over makes a play-off to win a major tournament, I think maybe there's something a little bit too tough. But that was their decision. They set the golf course out. I just went ahead and did my job. I didn't moan, didn't bitch, just went ahead; and they set the golf course up the way they wanted. They were obviously happy with it. I didn't have any problem with the golf course the way it was set up really, I just tried to focus and do my thing.
Q. Did you hear a lot of moaning, a lot of bitching?
Paul Lawrie:I think a lot of players, what I read in the press when I was back home, obviously a lot of people said a lot things. It is just whatever they want to do really. The golf course was very, very, very tough, but it's a major tournament and you should pass the exam.
Q. Remind me, Paul, what handicap you were when you turned pro and your aspirations then?
Paul Lawrie:I have honestly no ide
Paul Lawrie:Three, four, I wasn't that great, wasn't that low.
Q. Your aspirations when you turned pro?
Paul Lawrie:Well, to be a tournament player really - obviously to make a living from playing golf. I worked in Banchory golf shop for four years, did all my training, passed my PGA exams, did the right thing, did the repairs, did all that stuff and went out to see if I could try to play this game.
Q. Was this the tournament you wanted to win as a child and did you ever attend one of these as a young spectator?
Paul Lawrie:Yeah, I went to a few Opens when I was younger. My father took me through - I remember going to, I think it was at Lytham when Seve won. I think every kid dreams about winning the Open. There's nobody probably - a golfer who doesn't dream about winning the Open. Obviously it's a huge thing for anyone to do, especially when you win in Scotland when you live nearby.
Q. Any thoughts about what Jean must be going through in the next few days?
Paul Lawrie:Obviously Jean had the tournament in his pocket. He chips it down the 18th fairway, hits it on the green, makes 5, he's the Open Champion. He went for the shot. I believe it was a -iron. I'm not here to criticize him. I feel sorry for him. He really should have won. Thankfully for me he didn't. You know, he made a decision and he went through with it. I think he had 6 to win. He did have 6 to win. After being lucky with his tee shot hitting it right of the water you'd expect him to chip it down the fairway and make 5 or 6 and go. He didn't, you know, thankfully for me - no disrespect to him. I played with him when I won in Qatar, the last round, Jean. He's a really nice guy. I don't know if any one of - any of you watched the play-off. He was very sort of - chatted a lot on the 15th, on the play-off hole. He was cracking jokes with the crowd. You know, I thought 'Do your own thing here, just keep quiet, focus and it will all come good'. Thankfully it did.
Q. Paul, how do you plan to celebrate there and how do you plan to spend all that prize money?
Paul Lawrie:I shall be buying myself an Ferrari, I hope. I don't honestly know. Obviously I'm gonna take - I'm not playing next week in the Dutch. I'm taking the week off. I obviously can't wait to get home and see my wife. As for the money side of things, obviously, I probably don't have a problem any more. You know I'm sure I'm gonna enjoy it.
Q. Do you come from a golfing background? Is your father a golfer?
Paul Lawrie:My father and brother both play, but they won't mind me saying they're not very good. They're both handicap or handicap or something. So you know no one in my family has really ever been any good at playing golf. So, no.
Q. Paul, will you continue to live in Aberdeen?
Paul Lawrie:I definitely will, home is Aberdeen. It might buy a new house but I'll be living in Aberdeen.
Q. Can you talk about the Doug Sanders connection?
Paul Lawrie:Yeah, one of my old sponsors runs the Doug Sanders Tournament in Aberdeen. Stuart Spence, who owns a hotel in Aberdeen. and he fixed up for me to go and stay with him - for my wife and I to go and stay with him for a couple of weeks in AmericPaul Lawrie:He was very good to me. He showed me a lot of things. We stayed in his house. It was fantastic to learn from someone who is obviously a great player.
Q. Paul, if there was a Scot we expected to win it would be Colin Montgomerie. How do you think he'll feel, are you friends?
Paul Lawrie:I would have to think he would be obviously very happy for me. I get on very well with Monty. He has always been very nice to me. He's obviously a helluva of a player. You assume he would beat you to a major championship - he hasn't. I've no problem. Colin is a great guy, no problem at all. I'm sure he'll be chuffed for me.
Q. Do you know he predicted you would be in the play-off, as soon as he finished playing he predicted you'd be in the play-off?
Paul Lawrie:I didn't know that. But when I won in Qatar I had a fax message from him saying that he would see me on the 1st tee the Kuala Lumpur where the World Cup is gonna be played; he obviously assumed that I would be straight in. Up until this week Dean Robertson was gonna be the guy playing with him. Obviously I will be pegging up with him in the World Cup so I'm looking forward to it.
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McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

“I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.” 

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Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 12:44 pm

No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.

Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.

With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.

“This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”

Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson. 

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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?