Wednesday, 27 January 2016
Paul Lawrie  (Getty Images)
Paul Lawrie (Getty Images)

Paul Lawrie believes his game is perfectly suited to Doha Golf Club as he looks to become the first man to win the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters three times.

The Scot fired an opening 67 to sit just two shots off the lead held by Louis Oosthuizen and Pablo Larrazábal on a day when trademark gusts made an appearance at the Doha layout.

This event is known as one of the windiest on The European Tour and Lawrie, who won The Open Championship at a wild Carnoustie in 1999, believes he has all the attributes to conquer the elements.

"I'm happy knocking it down," he said. "I'm happy hitting five iron 160 yards into kind of a strong breeze. I've always been able to do it, stick the ball a bit further back in the stance and take a bit of speed off it.

It's not rocket science, so I kind of quite enjoy doing that. I quite enjoy manoeuvring the ball and kind of shaping the ball - Paul Lawrie

"So when it's like this, sometimes, I kind of get a bit out of it.

"You've got to shape the ball around here. The pins are sometimes quite tight. The greens are pretty firm.

"You've got to be able to control the flight of your ball really well around here, which I've always been able to do. It's not something that I've ever really worked on.

"I'm not saying that you're guaranteed to do well tomorrow if it's blowing; it's not like that. It's still pretty tough and there's a lot of good players here. But I always feel kind of pretty comfortable when it's blowing a wee bit."

Lawrie won his first Qatar Masters title in 1999, the same year that he claimed the Claret Jug and went on to be part of the European Ryder Cup team defeated at Brookline.

His next victory at the event came 13 years later as he once again played his way onto The Ryder Cup team, this time emerging victorious as Europe completed their remarkable 'Miracle at Medinah'.

With just three top tens since 2012, Lawrie is looking to regain his form as Darren Clarke prepares to captain the team at Hazeltine in the autumn, and the 47 year old knows this week would be the perfect time.

"I always enjoy it," he said. "I've had a lot of good rounds here, a lot of success, won twice, and had quite a few good weeks here over the years.

"It's not changed much over here. It's always been kind of the same kind of way. The scoring has always been pretty good, even though the conditions are always pretty tough, because the course is always in great condition.

"I played nicely in the Joburg Open, and last week I was terrible. Drove the ball really poorly and really struggled last week.

"I feel as though I'm not far away and hopefully this afternoon is a little bit of a boost that we need to kick on and have a good week."

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T4JOHNSTON, AndrewENG18-11
T4SLATTERY, LeeENG18-11

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