Lawrie recalls remarkable Open triumph 20 years on

Posted by on July 15, 2019  /   Posted in golf reviews

Paul Lawrie won the 1999 Open Championship in a play-off after leaving 10 shots at the start of Day Four. The Open 2019Date: July 18-21 Course: Royal Portrush, Northern IrelandCoverage: live radio and text commentary on all four days. Highlights every night on BBC Two.

It is one of the greatest stories in golf. A local player, ranked 241 in the world, qualifies for The Open at Carnoustie and comes out of 10 shots on the last day to claim a career-defining triumph.

Twenty years later, Paul Lawrie remains the last Scot to win a major. And he knew his astonishing triumph was the moment he fooled Jean van de Velde before the play-off with a police hat.

Now 50, Lawrie recalls the brain games, excitement, and sensible celebrations of his Incredible Open victory.

& # 39; Top Four was the goal for the day & # 39;

After coming through qualifying, the goal of Lawrie & # 39; s pre-tournament was simply making the cut. And, the start of the final round 10 shots drifting from the leader – Frenchman Van de Velde – thoughts about lifting the Claret Jug did not come to his mind.

"The top four was the goal for today," he says. "I hadn't played in the Masters and the top four were invited. I wasn't in the Scottish Dunhill Cup team at the time – it was chosen after The Open and Andrew Coltart was in that position until the day of today, that I took his place in the Dunhill Cup team, but that was the stuff in my head, not winning The Open.

"On the 12th I struck a beautiful second shot from the left half until five feet and hit it for birdie. Suddenly the cameras were there, the crowd was swelling and you know you have a chance to play three or four behind with six. "

& # 39; The way they behaved, I felt I would win & # 39;

After placing an excellent seal 67 to end six pairings, it was a case of looking and yearning for the 30-year-old Scot.

But he could hardly believe his eyes as Van de Velde suffered a dramatic collapse within hitting the distance of glory. a hole to play, but a disastrous triple bogey seven – pulling a grandstand rail, dipping a chip into the Barry Burn and then finding a bunker – lets the Claret Jug slip out of his hands.

Jean van de Velde set his ball on fire on the 72nd hole en route to a triple bogey

Lawrie snatched him after "ingenious" psychology from his coach, Adam Hunter, before the four-hole play-off with Van de Velde and American Justin Leonard.

"When we were in the buggy until the 15th tee, Adam could see that I was very nervous," says Lawrie. "So he told me, when the boys arrived on the tee, to look into their eyes, knowing that they would be nervous.

" Justin Leonard was the first to arrive and he was gone – he didn't look good way. He had won in & # 39; 97 and had the most to lose, because he was expected to beat Jean and me. Then Jean arrived and he had lost his hat. He played with the policeman's hat on the back of the tee, pulled it on, scratched jokes with people, and I thought, "Man, he's trying to hide his nerves here".

"I immediately felt just: & # 39; I'm going to win The Open. The way these guys behaved, keep up with yourself and you become Open champion. & # 39; It was Adam who did that , no question. "

& # 39; You cannot prevent your body from vibrating & # 39;

Those brain games gave Lawrie the advantage and he kept his nerve to end the game even par – with his two rivals three – before enjoying the parties with a clear head.

"I didn't drink much at the time – three or four beers a year," he says. "We had a beer in the house, [my wife] Marian and I and my brother-in-law, and watched the play-off and slept asleep. Not with the jug beside me – looking back, what was I thinking about?"

Lawrie admits that he was "lucky" with Van de Velde & # 39; s notorious 72-hole meltdown, but has sympathy for the Frenchman, whom he still regards as a friend. "He and I have always done great," says de Schot. "There has been this fake thing over the years that we don't get along. It's the exact opposite.

" I get a little upset when you hear people say, & # 39; Oh it's ridiculous If you have a six to win, I could do it. & # 39; Well, until you're in that position on that tee with the chance to win the biggest event in the world, you can't realize how hard that is. You cannot prevent your body from shaking, your hands shaking. You have no control over what happens. "

& # 39; Adam was the difference for me & # 39;

Paul Lawrie and coach Adam Hunter, who died in 2011

The influence of colleague Scot and former pro Hunter – who died of leukemia in 2011 at the age of 48 – on Lawrie's career cannot be emphasized enough.

"I've had a lot of help from a number of coaches over the years, but Adam was the difference for me," says De Schot with eight European Tour titles.

"He gave me a discipline that I did not have before how to practice, when to practice, when to rest. He was not afraid to charge me on the back when I did not do what he felt I should be.

"His honesty was the best thing about him. And his work ethic – he would never go until I went. He was absolutely wonderful to me. "

The new breed of Scotland & # 39; pretty exciting & # 39;

Lawrie appears this week in Royal Portrush in the 148th Open Championship, and then works back to fitness and form operation to repair a torn tendon which he had unknowingly suffered in the last five years.

What is the chance that one of his young countrymen will follow in his footsteps and cancel the Claret Jug?

"I don't understand why not," says Lawrie, "we have six or seven all about the same level and they have to feed each other. I had that with Monty [Colin Montgomerie] and Sam [Torrance] and [Sandy] Lyle, where, if they played well, they wanted to beat them the next week.

"We have some players able to win at the highest level and we haven't had that for a long time. It's quite exciting."

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