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For the second time in his decorated career, Paul Lawrie will have the honour of hitting the opening shot at the Open Championship this week – and he doesn’t mind admitting he’s nervous at the prospect.

The 1999 ‘Champion Golfer of the Year’ will get proceedings under way in The 150th Open when he strikes the first ball at the Old Course on Thursday morning.

The full list of tee times have yet to be released but it has been confirmed by the R&A that the Aberdonian will be first up at around 6.30am, just as he was at St Andrews in 2010.

Speaking to The Courier after the ‘Celebration of Champions’ on Monday evening, the 53-year-old didn’t deny he would have some butterflies, but added he would have no difficulty in making the early morning alarm call.

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“I’m 53 so I’m wide awake at 4:30 going for a pee,” he laughed.

“I’m always nervous on the first tee, no matter what tournament I play in. But this will be nervous because it’s the 150th Open and bit of a milestone. Fortunately it’s a nice, big fairway. Mind you, I could miss any fairway however wide it is!”

“When we had the Champions’ Challenge in 2000, I had the first hit as defending champion and I hit a horrible pull hook and it was only about a foot from the out of bounds fence. 

“Tom Weiskopf was next and as he went over he whispered in my ear, ‘thank f*** you went first’. He hit the same shot, right next to my ball.”

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Lawrie stepped away from the main tour in October 2020 but demonstrated that the competitive fire still burns with a win on the Legends Tour last month. 

“You can get it around these courses a bit better,” he said. “If it was the main tour I’d be struggling. But it’s links and the ground’s really hard. I knocked it on the last green, which is not my normal shot down there.

“So it’ll play shorter and hopefully we can bumble round somehow. The harder and faster the better, it’s proper links out there.”


author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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