Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Paul Lawrie has pulled out of his Andalucian Open title defence this week because of illness - and it could leave him sweating on a place in next month's US Masters at Augusta.
The Aberdeen golfer is currently 45th in the world and at the end of next week the top 50 earn invitations to the opening major of the year.
Lawrie, who has not played at The Masters since 2004, almost withdrew from Sunday's final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami.
"I haven't been feeling too well this week, but last night I was up coughing most of the night," he wrote on his website blog on Sunday.
"I was going to pull out today until I found out you have to complete four rounds for the money to count on the Order of Merit and Ryder Cup points, so I decided to cough and splutter my way round, eventually shooting 77."
It dropped him to joint 60th in the 74-man field and meant he did not pick up any world ranking points in any case.
Lawrie won the Qatar Masters last month and is currently fifth in the race for places in Jose Maria Olazabal's European Ryder Cup side for Medinah in the autumn.
Paul last played in the match in 1999 - the year he won the Open Championship, of course, from an amazing 10 strokes behind with a round to play at Carnoustie.
Olazabal, meanwhile, has also withdrawn from this week's event at Aloha near Marbella. Plagued by rheumatic pains for the best part of two decades, he has a foot injury.

Miguel Angel Jiménez, whose company MAJ Group promotes the Open de Andalucia Costa del Sol, is confident that Aloha Golf Club will deliver another sucessful staging of the tournament this week.
The 18-time European Tour winner said: “Aloha is a great golf course, so I’m sure all the guys will really enjoy playing there. I was there three weeks ago and it was in perfect condition, so hopefully we’ll have some good weather and everyone can have a great week.
"It can sometimes be quite a stressful week because I have so much going on, but I always have a really good time, and I’m sure this year will be no different.
“It’s always great to be a part of the tournament. I’ve been involved for the last six years now, and I’m very pleased with how it’s grown in that time. I wanted to give something back to the region and to the Tour, and the tournament’s the perfect way of doing that.
"I was born and raised in Andalucía, so I’m very proud of where I come from, and helping to organise the tournament is something that I love to do. It’s great for the region and great for the Tour, so I’m really looking forward to the week.”
The event has attracted another strong field, with three Major champions in action: Rich Beem of America, New Zealand’s Michael Campbell and Canadian Mike Weir. The number should have been five, but 1999 Open Champion, and Open de Andalucia Costa del Sol defending champion Paul Lawrie, was forced to withdraw from the tournament through illness, while a foot injury has robbed the tournament of two time Masters Champion and current European Ryder Cup Captain Jose Maria Olazabal.
Of Jiménez’s fellow Spaniards, recent European Tour champions Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Pablo Larrazábal and Pablo Martin perhaps represent the host nation’s best hopes of securing a home victory for the first time in the tournament’s history.



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