Wednesday, March 20, 2013


The voice at the other end of the phone sounds like someone mumbling through a mouthful of ill-fitting falsers.
""I'm eating my bowl of fruit . . . like a true athlete," splutters Paul Lawrie, amid a cacophony of slurps and sooks.
Paul Lawrie in action during the final round of the  WGC-Cadillac Championship at the Trump Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Florida.  Picture: Warren Little/ Getty Images
Paul Lawrie in action during the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship at the Trump Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Florida. Picture: Warren Little/ Getty Images(c)

The Aberdonian certainly enjoyed the fruits of his labour during a sparkling 2012 that could be described as a peach of a year. Two wins and a Ryder Cup appearance was always going to take some beating and, giving the lofty levels he reached, it's not surprising that Lawrie's first term self-assessment reads "could do better". 
The 1999 Open champion is confident things will get better, though. At 20th on the European Tour's greens in regulation stats, Lawrie is still smacking the ball as well as ever but the old woes with the putter have caused a considerable amount of cursing. He languishes in 185th on the putts per greens in regulation table and is 187th on the putts per round order. 
These are still early days in the campaign, though, and the 44-year-old is not about to reach for the panic button.
"It's been a poor start, there's no question about that, and the results have not been what I expected," admitted Lawrie, who managed a share of seventh in the Volvo Golf Champions in January but has failed to make his presence felt in the events that have followed on both sides of the Atlantic.
"The putting has been absolutely horrendous but it's only been a few weeks. If I'm sitting here in August and I'm still where I am on the putting stats then I'll be thinking 'man, I'm having a nightmare'.
"My next event is the Masters and I need this time to spend hours, everyday, knocking in six to eight footers on the chalk line to get some confidence up. Confidence is the biggest thing I'm struggling with. 
"When you keep seeing the ba' missing the hole, it's nae good for your mind. But there's no panic. I'm not thinking 'this is going to be a disaster'. Once I start knocking them in, there's no reason why I won't be competing again. I'll get it sorted."
After such a stellar year, Lawrie knows that, as Scotland's standard bearer on the world stage, the expectations and the pressures, both from himself and outside sources, have gone up a few more notches.
Golf is a fickle old game. One minute you're the best thing since sliced bread, the next you're as much use as a moulding loaf.
In this age of social media, when tweeters and bloggers hide behind the mask of anonymity and spray online insults around like confetti at a wedding, the potential for being on the receiving end of knee-jerk reaction and rapid-fire criticism has never been greater.
The thick-skinned Lawrie is well aware of the perils that abound. "I was getting a wee bit of stick on Twitter at the Ryder Cup on the first two days and then, all of a sudden, I won on the Sunday and I was a hero," he recalled.
"After a slow start to the season people will be saying 'here he goes back to his old ways'. It's a fickle game and I understand that. Just recently, a guy abused me on Twitter and wrote 'I hope you never make another birdie, you ****' so I answered back and said 'Love you, too'. 
He put something else up saying 'Glad to see you made another birdie, chin up' and I responded with 'Which chin? I have a few'.
All of a sudden he sent me a direct message to say 'I think I got you wrong, you're quite a good lad, a down to earth, nice guy'. It was amazing. How you can you abuse someone without knowing them? I'm not having people doing that. 
When you have a run of success it's tough to live up to it, any sportsman will tell you that. It's been a little tougher for me this season because of what I achieved last year and that's the challenge I face now."
While the twits on Twitter continue to talk twaddle, those of a more sensible nature appreciate the fine work Lawrie does away from the golf course. 
He will be at the Hilton Hotel in Glasgow tomorrow night for a sportman's dinner to raise money for the Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice.
"These events are so important," said Lawrie, who lost his coach and friend Adam Hunter to cancer in October 2011. "Places like this need to raise the money, a lot of money. They can't run without it and if I can help in some way then I will."
He may not have hit the ground running in 2013 but, with his 27th year as a professional well under way, Lawrie continues to relish his new lease of sporting life.
"Every time I get my haircut and see the grey hitting the floor, I know I've been a pro a long time," he said, jokingly. "I was feeling my age maybe three or four years ago when I wasn't in a great shape. Now I feel great again. The last couple of years have been very good for me. I'll keep kicking on."



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