It says a lot about the man that, when asked what he thinks of his achievements in golf, Paul Lawrie simply replies, ‘it wasn’t bad.’
A European Tour career spanning three decades, eight wins, the last Scotsman to lift the Claret Jug at Carnoustie in 1999, and a member of the immortalised group of players who beat near impossible odds to take down a formidable US team led by Tiger Woods on the last day of the Ryder Cup in the miracle that was Medinah.
It’s one hundred per cent certain that Lawrie’s Aberdonian when his reaction to this list of achievements is for the former Banchory pro to say – ‘it’s not bad’. No Paul it wasn’t bad at all, and it could have gone a lot worse…
Keeping his nerve to beat Justin Leonard and Jean van de Velde in a play-off tie sees Lawrie as the last Scot to take home the Claret Jug, fourteen years after Sandy Lyle lifted the famous trophy in 1985.
Whether Sandy had the insouciance to stick the jug in the back of his Subaru Impreza and nip back up the road with it is a question still to be answered.
With great success comes great responsibility and after his career changing Open victory Lawrie qualified for the Ryder Cup team that same year, hosted at the The Country Club, Brookline Massachusetts.
But his Ryder Cup career will always be remembered for that fateful three days in Medinah where the golfing gods were at play with fortune like no other time in the history of the game.
Not only were Lawrie and co coming up against the US on their home soil, but Lawrie had to contend with a thirteen year gap between his first and second appearance at the Ryder Cup.
Europe went into the final day destined for defeat, 10-6 down and needing an impossible eight points to win, which, somehow they got, coming home in 14 ½ to USA’s paltry 13 ½.
Lawrie played his part, beating Brandt Snedecker 5 and 3 in the final day singles matches and the rest as they say is history.
Lawrie’s other great responsibility – something of even more significance than Medinah – is his golf foundation in Aberdeen that helps children take up the game of golf.
The foundation has been running since 2001 on the banks of the River Dee in the lush green valley of Royal Deeside, and has seen success stories including David Law, who took up the game through the foundation at aged 11 and is now in his second year on the European Tour.
As much success as he’s had it’s not all been perfect for Lawrie. He’s spoken of his crippling depression after his Open victory where everyone talked about Van de Velde’s implosion rather than Lawrie’s fortitude.
And he struggled to make the transition to the more lucrative US Tour due in-part to American’s inability to pronounce his name right.
Lawrie decided to call time this weekend at the Scottish Open held at the Renaissance Club in North Berwick with son Craig on the bag.
Persistent back problems and a desire to pursue other ventures means Lawrie leaves the game with grace, huge amounts of respect and a dash of that rare Aberdonian humility.
*Lawrie still plans to play the Senior’s Tour and has a champion’s exemption to enter The Open till 60.