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.
News Conference Transcript Archive
Full Coverage of the British Open
Getty Images

Molinari reflects on beating Woods at Ryder Cup, Open

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 9:11 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Francesco Molinari might be a useful resource for the European Ryder Cup team.

He’s already beaten Tiger Woods, head to head, at a Ryder Cup and a major.

Molinari was in the anchor match at the 2012 Ryder Cup when Woods conceded on the final hole to give the Europeans an outright victory in the incredible comeback at Medinah. He said the last hole was a “blur,” and it remains the last Ryder Cup that both Molinari and Woods played.

“I’ve improved a lot as a player since 2012,” said Molinari, who lost his previous singles match against Woods in 2010, 4 and 3, “and I hope to show that on the course this week.”

The proof is the claret jug that he now keeps at home.

Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos

To win his first major he needed to not only endure the circus that a Woods group brings, but he needed to outlast the 14-time major champion and a host of other worthy contenders to prevail at Carnoustie.

Reflecting on that momentous day Tuesday, Molinari said he initially was dreading the final-round date with Woods.

“If I’m completely honest, I wasn’t exactly hoping to be paired with Tiger, not because I don’t like to play with him, but because, obviously, the hype and with him being in contention in a major, it’s going to be noisy and it’s going to be a lot of people," he said. 

“So the most challenging part was probably that moment when the draw came out, but then I quickly managed to think, You know, whatever. I don’t really care. I’m here to do a job, and they can’t really influence how I do my job.”  

To thrive in that situation gave Molinari a lot of confidence – especially heading into a pressure-cooker like the Ryder Cup.

Asked whether it’s more pressure trying to win a major or a Ryder Cup – since he’s now done both – Molinari said: “You won’t believe me, but it’s nowhere near. Carnoustie was nowhere near Medinah or in any matching ways. It’s hard to believe, but it’s probably because you play for a team; you play for a continent in our case, and you know about the tradition and what players have done in the past.”

Getty Images

Woods 25/1 to break Nicklaus' record by age 50

By Will GraySeptember 25, 2018, 9:05 am

With his victory at the Tour Championship, Tiger Woods crept closer to Sam Snead's all-time PGA Tour wins mark. But he also got fans thinking about whether golf's most famous record is once again in play.

Woods has been stuck on 14 career major titles since the 2008 U.S. Open, although he had a pair of close calls this summer. But now that he's again a winner on Tour, oddsmakers at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook created bets on where Woods' career major haul will end up.

The line they drew in the sand? Dec. 30, 2025 - when Woods, now 42, will turn 50 years old.

According to the Westgate, Woods is a -150 favorite to win at least one more major by that time. He's 2/1 to win at least two more, 5/1 to win at least three more and 12/1 to win at least four more. But it'll take five more majors to break Nicklaus' record haul of 18, and the odds on Woods doing that by age 50 are set at 25/1.

There are also odds on Woods' 2019 major prospects, as he's already the betting favorite for the Masters at 9/1. Woods' odds of winning any major next year are listed at +225, while the pessimists can wager -275 that his major victory drought will extend to at least 2020.

There's even a bet for those expecting some serious history: the odds of Woods sweeping all four majors next year at age 43 are 200/1.

Getty Images

All 12 Europeans have history at Le Golf National

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 8:55 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The European team has plenty of experience at Ryder Cup venue Le Golf National, which has been the longtime host of the French Open.

The question this week is whether it’ll matter.

The only American player to compete in this year’s French Open was Justin Thomas. Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau and Bubba Watson all got a look at Le Golf National before The Open.

Not surprisingly, the European team has a proven track record here – all 12 players have seen the course at some point. Alex Noren won in July. Tommy Fleetwood is a past champion, too. So is European vice captain Graeme McDowell. Francesco Molinari and assistant Lee Westwood also have runners-up here.

Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos

“I definitely think it’s a help to us, for sure,” Ian Poulter said. “It’s probably the most-played venue as a Ryder Cup venue for all of the European players that have played. So we definitely have a feel of how this golf course has played in very different weather conditions. I definitely think we have an understanding of how this golf course can play.”

Of course, this setup is no different than what players typically experience as they prepare for a major championship. They’ll play 18 holes each of the next two days, then maybe nine holes on Thursday, as they get a feel for the layout.  

“When it’s the best players in the world, and we play on golf courses week-in and week-out where we have to learn a new golf course, it’s difficult to say how much of an advantage it will be,” Fleetwood said. “It can only be a good thing, or it can’t do any harm that we know the course better or that we’ve played it more times.

“Knowledge can only be a good thing. Maybe it’s a little advantage, but it’s the best players in the world that are out here, so it’s not something to look at too much.”

Getty Images

First-tee grandstand 'biggest you'll ever see'

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 8:27 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The first-tee nerves could be even more intense this week at the Ryder Cup.

If only because of the atmosphere.

The grandstand surrounding the first hole at Le Golf National is unlike anything that’s ever been seen at this event – a 6,500-seat behemoth that dwarfs the previous arenas.

“It’s the biggest grandstand you’ll ever see at a golf tournament,” Tommy Fleetwood said.

Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos

“It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t had to hit that tee shot before,” Ian Poulter said. “When I think back (to my first Ryder Cup) in 2004, the stand is nothing like what we have today. So it really is going to be quite a special moment Friday, and it’s going to be very interesting to see.”

Poulter said it’ll be his job to prepare, as best he can, the team’s rookies for what they’ll experience when the first ball goes in the air Friday morning.

“The No. 1 thing I’ve pictured since the Ryder Cup became a goal is that first tee shot,” Fleetwood said. “But nothing prepares you for the real thing. The grandstand is pretty big – there’s no denying that.

“It’s something that everybody wants in their career, so as nerve-wracking as it is, and whatever those feelings are, everybody wants that in their life. So you just have to take it on and let it all happen.”