Lawrie will keep grinding at Scottish Open in hopes of sealing Ryder spot

Paul Lawrie
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Paul Lawrie has a chance not only to return to the European Ryder Cup team after a 13-year absence, but to actually finish first in the qualifying race.
By
PA Sport

Series: European Tour

INVERNESS, Scotland -- Paul Lawrie is ignoring what he calls "a dangerous road to go down" as he heads into the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Castle Stuart.

But this has nothing to do with his daily journey -- it is about his bid to return to the Ryder Cup after an absence of 13 years.

"A lot of people keep saying 'you've done enough already', but you never know," said the 43-year-old from Aberdeen, who is third in the European standings with only seven weeks to go. "A lot can change. It's just my job to keep my head down and make as much as we can.

"I think until the team list is out on the Sunday night (August 26), apart from the two picks -- that's when I'll know I'm definitely in."

If he was to win this weekend or at next week's British Open, however, Lawrie could set his sights not just on qualifying, but on winning the qualifying race. He is that close.

"Obviously it's always the biggest two weeks of the year for a Scottish player," he said of this week’s Scottish Open and next week’s Open. "It's impossible not to think of the Ryder Cup because it's a huge event and you guys (the media) all want to know 'are you in yet, are you in yet?', but mentally I'm just trying to do as I can this week and move on."

Lawrie's Ryder Cup debut in 1999 came on the back of his Open victory at Carnoustie that summer. He was 159th in the world when he came from 10 shots behind and capitalized on Jean Van de Velde's triple-bogey meltdown at the last hole. Now he is 31st in the world and has the opportunity this week to move to his highest-ever position. He has to go up only three places for that.

As for the Open, Lawrie is disappointed that since his victory his best finish has been only 42nd. That came at Royal Lytham in 2001, and next week sees the championship back there.

David Duval won that year and Lawrie played with him in the third round. Things were so bunched that while Duval moved up from 35th to a tie for the lead with his 65, Lawrie's 69 improved his position only to 24th and he followed it with a 76.

"I don't feel under pressure to perform in it because I won it before," Lawrie said of his Open record since 1999. "The disappointment is more because it's my favorite form of golf.

"I enjoy bumping the ball in, hitting a 5-iron a 7-iron distance on links when it's into the wind," he added. "I don't wake up and hope it's blowing a gale and pouring rain, but if it is, it is -- there's not much more you can do."

Lawrie plays the first two rounds at Castle Stuart with late entry Phil Mickelson -- as he did last year -- and also with fellow Scot Martin Laird.

The world No. 36, who has been based in America since his college days, was due to have played last week's French Open, but pulled out following the death of his grandfather. He currently stands 23rd on the Ryder Cup table, his hopes of a debut having been damaged by the fact he was not a member of the European Tour last season and therefore did not collect points in the first four months of the race.

"In the next few weeks I've got two majors, a World Championship event and the Scottish Open, which I treat as a fifth major," Laird said. "So I've got a great stretch to do something. Hopefully I'll win one or at least be in contention in a couple and see what happens."