Lawrie’s Return Opens Old Wounds

Strange as it may seem the one man who should most relish the Open Championship’s return to Carnoustie this year appears to be increasingly disgruntled by his position in the game.

Paul Lawrie, who so memorably held himself together in the driech Scottish weather back in 1999, is haunted by the idea that his Open victory will be forever undervalued. 

The last European to win a major said:

“It is difficult for me. I am a major winner but I’ve never had that respect. But the Claret Jug sits in my sitting room and can never be taken away.” 

It is hard not to sympathise. A quiet, family man the feeling persists that Lawrie won the Open by “hanging on” as others disintegrated. Even amongst other Europeans – so many of who have lacked the ability to “hang on” – Lawrie appears the outsider, the unfashionable hacker whose Open triumph seems forgotten or ignored.

And, in a world where European major wins are as rare as American Ryder Cup triumphs, that is a shame. Over four days in 1999, when Carnoustie proved the ultimate unpredictability of links play, Lawrie was the man who stood unbowed in the face of one the severest Open tests for years. 

That feat in itself deserves respect and recognition. That Lawrie is a humble, likeable guy and seemingly devoid of ego should make us cherish his moment of greatness even more. He himself feels that another major would seal his entry to the pantheon of golf.

If that doesn’t happen then he should still be satisfied that he will forever rank alongside Ben Hogan as an Open winner at Carnoustie.

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