Emotional Paul Lawrie bids farewell to European Tour

Paul Lawrie European Tour Farewell

Almost 30 years after his first, Paul Lawrie has played his final round on the European Tour.

The 51-year-old, the winner of the Open Championship in 1999, was unable to advance to the weekend in the Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club, bringing an end to his career at the top-level on what was his 620th tour start.

Lawrie bows out having won eight times, earning almost €13million and making two Ryder Cup appearances in the process.

He had son Craig on the bag and close friend Stephen Gallacher for company in his final two rounds on the circuit. He split the fairway with his final drive and whistled contentedly as he took his last walk up the fairway.

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However, the injury problems that have bedeviled him over the last few years were plain for all to see on the back nine, where, at times, he used his driver as a makeshift walking stick.

After signing for a 79 on what was almost his 2,000th round on the European Tour, the Aberdonian again outlined why he's calling it quits.

"I would say that I've obviously been fortunate enough to have been a decent player, to have won a few, and every win is special because I never thought I'd win any to be honest," said Lawrie. "Never thought I would play in
any, never mind win any.

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"Obviously, the Open was out of this world and to have your name on that is unbelievable. So it's been a great time. Had a blast. Been a great time.

"But today shows exactly why I'm doing what I'm doing. I can't play at this level, when my back's terrible, my left foot's been sore this last couple of days.

"It's the right thing to do. I don't want to play in tournaments and just be making up the numbers. That's not what I'm about. If I'm stopping a young boy coming in and having a game, having a career, I don't want that. There's no chance I can win tournaments at this level.

"So, if I can't win tournaments, there's other things that I can be doing, and I don't mean that to sound flippant. I'm just a big believer that you don't hang about. When your time's up, your time's up. On you go."

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Lawrie will have plenty to occupy him. As well as trying to get back to full fitness ahead of an assault on the Legends Tour next season, he also has the Junior Ryder Cup captaincy to keep him busy, not to mention his various other off-course commitments.

"That's the main reason why I don't want to play at this level anymore," he added. "I'm pretty busy off the course, and I enjoy that stuff more than playing now.

"Junior Ryder Cup, I'm really looking forward to that. I think that's going to be a special event. I've always been into junior golf. I've always wanted to try and develop players and bring them through. It's the pinnacle of junior golf is the Junior Ryder Cup, so I'm awfully excited about that.

"My foundation, we have had a little bit of a break because of what's been happening, and we've not done any events. Next year, we are going to crack on and get bigger and better. And obviously the sport agency, I enjoy looking after players and managing players and bringing them through. That's where my time is going to be spent."

Lawrie joined the European Tour in 1992, six years after turning pro with a handicap of five. He made his debut in the season-opener that year, the Johnnie Walker Asian Classic in Thailand.

He landed his first victory in March 1996 in the Catalan Open, adding the Qatar Masters to his mantelpiece in 1999. His finest and most famous hour came the same year, when he defeated Justin Leonard and Jean van de Velde in a playoff to win The Open at Carnoustie. He went on to make his Ryder Cup debut later in 1999a in Europe's narrow defeat at Brookline.

Lawrie’s next win came just across the Firth of Forth from Carnoustie, in 2001, when he claimed the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, beating Ernie Els by a shot. The Celtic Manor Wales Open followed in 2002.

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He had to wait almost nine years for his next victory the 2011 Open de Andalucia. That particular triumph kick-started the second act of career. A second Qatar Masters victory, in 2012, and a third win on home soil in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles later than year, earned Lawrie a second shot at the Ryder Cup.

He played his part, too, famously scalping the USA’s Brandt Snedeker as Jose Maria Olazabal’s European side staged a monumental Sunday fightback in what has become known as the ‘Miracle at Medinah’.

Whilst injuries have plagued him over the past few years, Lawrie has continued to be a prominent figure in the game.

He hosted the Paul Lawrie Matchplay on the tour between 2015 and 2017, and has continued to provide opportunities for juniors to get into golf through his eponymous foundation. In February 2019, David Law became the first of the foundation’s alumni to win on the European Tour.

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More recently, Lawrie, who runs his own golf facility in his native Aberdeen, has launched his own management company as well as a brand new playing circuit for Scottish pros, the Tartan Pro Tour.

In January 2019, he became eligible for the over-50s circuit and won his first title, appropriately enough the Scottish Senior Open, later the same year.

He was appointed an MBE in 2000 and an OBE in 2013 for services to golf.  

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