Paul Lawrie achieved his first European Tour win in nine years Sunday -- the first leg of what he hoped would be a notable double for Scottish golf.
The 42-year-old former British Open champion took the Andalucian Open by one over Sweden’s Johan Edfors just as his Scottish compatriot Martin Laird prepared to tee off with a two-stroke lead in the Arnold Palmer Invitational on the PGA Tour.
2011 ANDALUCIA OPEN
European Tour star Miguel Angel Jimenez is the promoter of the Andalucia Open, which is played in his hometown of Malaga, Spain.
With six runner-up finishes since his last victory, Lawrie must have feared it was going to be another near miss when, from one ahead overnight, he bogeyed the first two holes Sunday and England's Mark Foster birdied them.
But, in a repeat of what happened at last year's Spanish Open, Foster could not hold onto a three-shot lead.
Lawrie, despite dropping another stroke at the fifth, turned things round by starting the back nine with four birdies in five holes. And the Aberdeen golfer, whose world ranking has dropped from 29th in 2000 to 272nd, could even afford a closing bogey to win with a level-par 70 and 12-under total of 268.
"It's been a long time -- 2002 seems a hell of a time ago," he said. "I've had a few second places in there, but all of a sudden we're there again.
"It was going pear-shaped a little bit, but you've just got to keep going -- that's all you can do,” he added. "I played lovely and the putter behaved better. I got on a nice run at the right time."
Edfors was left to rue a three-putt bogey on the 15th after he had drawn level three times, but with a 68 he pushed Chilean Felipe Aguilar into third spot.
Foster, who like Lawrie was chasing his first victory in more than 200 Tour starts going back in his case to 2003, slipped back into a tie for fourth.
Meanwhile, Kenneth Ferrie, who tied the European Tour record with his 60 in the third round, crashed back to earth with a bump as a 75 sent him tumbling down into a tie for 11th.
It was not a finish Spaniard Jose Manuel Lara will want to think about for too long, either. Tied for third with a hole to go and still in with a chance if Lawrie made a mess of the difficult 18th, he went out of bounds with his approach and ran up a triple-bogey 7.
A 14-footer at the 10th was the turning point for Lawrie. He followed it with a 25-foot putt and chipped close on both the 12th and 14th, the two par 5 on the Parador Golf Club course.
To his immense relief, it did not matter that he missed from under three feet in between those last two birdies or that he failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker at the last. His sixth victory will move him up more than 100 places in the world.