DOHA, Qatar -- Former British Open champion Paul Lawrie – whose nickname is “Chippy” -- chipped in for an eagle and a birdie on his way to winning the wind-shortened Commercialbank Qatar Masters on Sunday, shooting a 7-under 65 to hold off the challenge of Jason Day and Peter Hanson, who finished four shots back.
Lawrie finished with a 15-under total of 201 to win his seventh European Tour event and his second in Qatar.
The victory is Lawrie’s second in a year -- he also won the Andalucia Open -- after a nine-year drought.
Less than a year ago, the 1999 Open champion was down at 272nd in the rankings. Now he is part of golf's elite group again, as this victory moves him back in to the top 50, guarantees him a place in the 64-man WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona later this month and the 24-man Volvo World Match Play in Spain in May.
This year is the 15th staging of the Commercialbank Qatar Masters, and all have been played at Doha Golf Club.
He is back in contention for the European Ryder Cup team -- he made his only Ryder Cup appearance 13 years ago -- and if he can stay in the top 50 for another seven weeks, he will make a return to the Masters at Augusta National in April after an eight-year gap.
“I played lovely all week. But today I think tee to green, apart from my tee shot on 10th, I can’t play much better than that,” said Lawrie, who also won the 1999 Qatar Masters. “I actually felt I left three or four putts out there and got it around to 7 under on a golf course where the greens were pretty firm.”
Lawrie came into the final round with a one-shot lead over big-hitting Nicolas Colsaerts. Lawrie started slowly with only one birdie in his first eight holes but, just as several players including Sergia Garcia (68), were challenging for the lead, Lawrie sank a 20-yard chip for eagle on the ninth hole to go up by two.
He never looked back, even as Day (65) and Garcia continued making birdies. He ran off four birdies himself on a flawless back nine that included clutch birdie putts on 11 and 14. And when Hanson chipped in for eagle on 16 to draw within three, Lawrie responded with chip-in for birdie on 17 go to up by four. He played it safe on No. 18 and closed out with a short par putt for the win.
Early on, it looked like Garcia might overtake Lawrie for the win. The Spaniard opened with six birdies in his first 11 holes, including one on 10 that tied him for the lead with Lawrie. But then Garcia’s putter went cold on the back nine, starting when he missed a two-footer for par on 13.
Clearly flustered, Garcia then missed a 10-footer for birdie at the next hole. He took himself out of contention when he bogeyed the next hole and finished tied for fifth.
Day also started strong, with four birdies on his first four holes to move up the leaderboard. The 23-year-old Australian bogeyed No. 9 but bounced back with four straight birdies to close within two shots of the lead. But then he missed birdie putts on 15 and 17 to fall out of contention.
Hanson, who came into the final round two shots back, quietly made a move when he ran off two birdies to finish the front nine. He stumbled with a bogey on 13 only to recover with a birdie on 14 and then a chip in for eagle on 16.
First-round leader John Daly (67) also remained in the hunt all day, sinking a 12-foot birdie to go 8 under and then sank a 25-footer from the fringe on 17 for another of his four birdies on the back nine. But his great putting was undone by two bogeys on the front nine.
Daly ended fourth at 9-under 207, with Garcia, Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (65), Ricardo Gonzalez (70) and Soren Hansen (66) a further shot back in a tie for fifth. Down at 543rd in the world at the start of the week, this was Daly’s best display since he was second in the 2009 Italian Open.
Fourth-ranked Martin Kaymer (69), Colsaerts (72) and Victor Dubuisson (69) were a shot behind in a tie for ninth. No. 3 Lee Westwood tied for ninth, sharing his position with Jose Maria Olazabal on the Ryder Cup captain's 46th birthday.
This was Lawrie’s first success since his longtime coach Adam Hunter died of leukemia in October, and Lawrie was close to tears when reminded of that afterward.
"I don't think I can play much better than that," said Lawrie. "I've been playing well for a long, long time, but it's just nice to come out one ahead and shoot 7 under," which was tied for low round of the day.
"When you've got a chance to win a tournament, you don't sleep as well the night before and things go racing through your mind," he added. "You've got to get back to basics and I did that. I hit some nice shots coming in."
Also reminded that his 1999 victory here was followed five months later by lifting the Open Claret Jug at Carnoustie, Lawrie said: "Now wouldn't that be nice to get that again?"
And as for the Ryder Cup, he added: "I've been trying to keep that to the back of my mind. If I keep playing as I am I will get in, there's no question, but there's a long way to go and I know as well as anyone that there are a lot of good players."
The tournament was disrupted by wind all week, and organizers called off Friday’s play and shortened the event to three rounds. Conditions improved Saturday and were calm Sunday.