Paul Lawrie hopes to take another step towards Ryder Cup qualification at this week’s ISPS Handa Wales Open after announcing that securing a place on José María Olazábal’s side would be the biggest accomplishment of his career.
The 43 year old Scot, who won The Open Championship in 1999, has enjoyed a remarkable resurgence in his career over the last year.
After winning at this week’s venue, The Celtic Manor Resort, in 2002 Lawrie went nine years without a victory and finished in The Race to Dubai’s top 50 only once.
And Lawrie, who won three and a half points on his one Ryder Cup appearance at Brookline in 1999, admits commentating on Europe’s 2010 triumph inspired him to push for a place on the plane to Medinah come September.
“When I was commentating at The Ryder Cup, I was sitting there talking about guys playing and I thought, man, I would really like to be part of that again. I would really like to be part of The Ryder Cup,” he said.
“And that's why I've never hidden the fact this year The Ryder Cup is really the only big thing I'm interested in doing. I would love to play in that team. Obviously you want to win tournaments and do as well as you can every week, especially this week in Wales. But if I can get on that Ryder Cup Team at 43, then I think that would be the biggest achievement of my career. So that's all I'm thinking about and all I'm focusing on.”
Things started to turn around for Lawrie when he won the Open de Andalucía last spring, and there have been three further top-three finishes already in 2012, with his win in Qatar followed by third place in the Volvo World Match Play and second at The European Tour’s flagship BMW PGA Championship last week.
That form has moved him all the way up to second in The Ryder Cup points race and on his resurgence Lawrie added: “Every golfer gets to a certain point where they are just going through the motions, but you need something to happen to kick you on a wee bit. You get to a certain age, I think 40, 41, you kind of need something to happen to get you to get back to work a bit more.
“My son was 14 and beat me over nine holes and I really didn't like that. I was proud of him and he's obviously starting to be a bit of a golfer, but I didn't like it. Then I did Ryder Cup commentary here last time, and these guys just make it look so easy, Ewan Murray and Bruce Critchley and all these boys.
“That week I just thought, ‘If this is what I'm going to be doing, I don't think I'm cut out for that and I don't think I'm good enough to do what they do.'
“So I started practising a bit more and got in the gym and lost a bit of weight and worked a bit on the putting and played more golf at home. I think the combination of Craig beating me for the first time and then doing some commentating made me think I still want to keep playing a bit longer.
“So I got the head down and did a little bit of work, mainly on the putting inside at the house, and things started to happen again. And then as you go week after week, and you keep having good finishes, the confidence builds and all of a sudden you're right back in the thick of it. So I think it's happened over a period, but those two instances are what started it I think.”