Monty: Lawrie has the "bottle" to return to the Ryder Cup
Paul Lawrie is unable to defend his Andalucian Open title on the European Tour this week because of illness, but Colin Montgomerie bets for his return to the European side of the Ryder Cup later this year.
Thirteen years ago, Lawrie made his only Ryder Cup appearance. And he could not have faced a tougher introduction than to be called upon by then captain, Mark James to hit the opening tee shot in 1999 at Brookline.
The then reigning Open Champion teamed with then five-time capped Colin Montgomerie eventually winning their match 3 & 2 against then Open Champion David Duval and PGA Championship runner-up Phil Mickelson.
The hopelessly led European team eventually went down in what is now known as the 'Battle of Brookline' losing by one point after managing to secure 3 1/2 points in the singles including Lawrie's final match when he trounched Jeff Maggert 4 & 3.
Lawrie is currently lying third on the Ryder Cup qualifying table and given the Aberdonian looks likely to now contest all four Majors this year stands the superb chance of qualifying automatically for Jose Maria Olazabal’s European team.
And given Lawrie’s credentials as former Open Champion and having won 3 ½ of a possible five points at Brookline, Monty believes his worth would be enormous to Olazabal’s already young looking outfit.
“I hope it was proven when Paul hit his 4-iron into the last hole at Carnoustie to win the ’99 Open what he is made of as that shot was no fluke,” said Monty.
“Paul Lawrie showed himself there to have the bottle to cope with playing in the Ryder Cup and he did.
“I was very impressed with Paul Lawrie at the Ryder Cup later that year. He was a rookie in ’99 and away from home it was not easy in that cauldron of Brookline, and he handed himself very well.
“I gave him the opening shot as the Open Champion and I felt he was obligated to do so and he was glad that he made contact with it as anyone playing the opening shot is.
“But at the same time he was very sure of himself under pressure and everybody I have played in Ryder Cup’s and beyond has not always been that way.”
The now 43-year old Lawrie is presently the oldest by four years among those currently lying in the top-10 on the Ryder Cup qualifying table.
However Lawrie is just coming off one of the brightest ever periods in his 20 year European Tour career having strung together an unprecedented run of four top 10s commencing with finishing runner-up in last December’s 2012 season-ending Dubai World Championship and culminating with a second Qatar Masters victory.
And this form that earned Lawrie an appearance in last week´s WGC – Cadillac Championship along with the likelihood now of returning to the Masters next month for a first occasion since 2004 that Monty believes will prove invaluable to Olazabal.
“Paul’s good event was great but then the next three or four didn’t really build on that and now what is happening is that he is managing to build on those confident results so he’s now putting these top-10s together and that is what you need to do to get into the Ryder Cup team,” said Monty.
“No question as he has the experience and there is no question you can’t take the Open Championship away from him.
“Paul’s got great experience in the Majors. He’s won the Dunhill Links Championship and he’s won some other big tournaments so I don’t feel
“My hope is that this form he is showing now through February and March will continue through June, July and August when it really matters, and when you are on the brink of becoming a Ryder Cup player 13 years after the first time you played.
“That would be a great effort for him.”Written by Bernie McGuire
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