Thursday, September 23, 2010

Martin Laird sets his sights on Fedex fortune

Martin Laird, who once worked in McDonalds to earn some pocket money, will receive confirmation about how much his life has changed today when he launches his bid to land a £7.3 million jackpot in the company of Phil Mickelson, the world No 2.
The Arizona-based Scot is in the elite 30-man field for the Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta, where, in addition to a first prize of £875,000, a staggering £6.5m is on offer to the winner of the FedEx Cup series.

Helped by his second-place finish in the opening event, the Barclays Championship at Ridgewood Country Club, New Jersey, last month, Laird is lying ninth in the standings and will have tenth-placed Mickelson, the defending champion this week, as his playing partner in today's first round. It's a far cry from the part-time job Laird had when he was still at school on the outskirts of Glasgow.
"My first job was at McDonalds, which is something a lot of people don't know," he revealed. "It was one that was just down the street from my high school and a bunch of my friends worked there. It was to get some spare change for going out."
Laird's pockets will be bulging with more money than he could ever dare to dream of should he taste victory this week.
"To lift the FedEx Cup I pretty much have to win and the guys ranked 1-3 (Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson and Charley Hoffman] can't finish second," noted the 27-year-old. "They are the only three players that can stop me from winning it all if I win the Tour Championship."
Having climbed to No 62 in the world rankings, Laird is already exempt for three of next year's majors - The Masters, US Open and Open Championship - as well as several of the world golf championships. This week's event, then, is a taste of things to come for the man who decided to stay in America after completing his studies at Colorado State University.
"Any time you get to compete in a field with 30 of the most in-form players on the US PGA Tour you have to be excited," he said. "I feel great about my game right now. I really feel like I have been playing pretty well for the last couple of months, since the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
"I feel like every week I can contend. I obviously can take a lot of confidence out of how I played at The Barclays against one of the strongest fields of the year.
"At the BMW (a fortnight ago] I was just exhausted as it was my seventh week in a row so I'm not looking at how I played there at all as I have had a good week of practice back home and feel ready to go this week.
"I feel recharged and confident that I can be in contention this week. I am in a great position and don't see why I can't have a chance to win come Sunday and, if everything works out, maybe win the FedEx Cup.
"I feel like the pressure is off a little with me making it to the Tour Championship and I'm just going to go out and play as free and aggressive as I can."
Before defending his title in the Justin Timberlake for Shriners Hospital for Children Open in Las Vegas next month, Laird is coming back to Scotland to make a first appearance in the Dunhill Links Championship in a fortnight's time.
He also hinted he may be adding a couple more European events to next season's schedule.
"I am excited about the Dunhill Links. I have only heard good things about the tournament and love having a chance to play in front of a home crowd again," he said.
"As for playing more in Europe next year, that is something that I will look at in the off season and beginning of next year. I would like to maybe add a couple more European events to my schedule."
As an affiliate member of the European Tour, Laird will be cheering on Colin Montgomerie's men in next week's Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor from the comfort of his armchair at home in Arizona before heading over to Fife to spend some time with his parents, Charles and Anne, in Upper Largo before the Dunhill Links.
"I am looking forward to the Ryder Cup and picking a winner is tough. I hope the European boys keep up the great play that they have had this year and we can take that Ryder Cup back off the US," said the Scot.
"It won't happen without a fight, though. I have played with a number of the US team over the last month and they are also all playing great golf. It's going to be a close one."

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