Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Paul Lawrie favours sudden-death match-play 

for Saltire Energy-supported Euro Tour event
   Paul Lawrie and his football star guest, Dons' captain Russell Anderson in the Murcar Links
                                              clubhouse today. Picture by courtesy of Kenny Smith

Paul Lawrie prefers sudden-death match-play for 

Murcar Links format instead of three-game pods

with a few extra words by Colin Farquharson  
Former Aberdeen FC manager Sir Alex Ferguson and current Aberdeen FC captain Russell Anderson have both given their backing to the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Matchplay that will take place at Murcar Links Golf Club, Aberdeen, from July 30 until August 2, 2015.
The inaugural event, which is the brainchild of Aberdeen's own golfing hero, Paul Lawrie, will run for a minimum of three years on The European Tour's Race to Dubai.
Sir Alex, who has a big affinity with the Aberdeen community following his hugely successful stint as the manager of Aberdeen Football Club from 1978 to 1986, commented: 
"I think it's a fantastic achievement for Paul to be launching a new event on The European Tour and I wish him every success with the tournament.
“Paul has achieved so much in his sport and has given so much back through his Foundation so it is very fitting that he now has a European Tour event named after him.
" I have a big affiliation to Aberdeen and this is great for the region to have another top sporting event being hosted there."
Russell, who is currently in his second spell at Aberdeen, and who has made 11 appearances in the dark blue of Scotland, said: “I'm delighted to lend my support to Paul as he launches his inaugural event at Murcar. As an ardent Dons supporter Paul is usually the one offering support to the team from the stands at Pittodrie so it's great to be reciprocating.
"To be able to bring such a prestigious tour event to the North-east is a significant achievement for Paul but it's also a huge coup for the city. On behalf of everyone at Aberdeen Football Club, I wish Paul every success with the event."
The Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match-play, which has a prize fund of €1million, will pit 64 leading professional players on The Race to Dubai against each other. 
The European Tour Order of Merit will decide who gets into the field. Four players will be invited .. which will ensure that host Paul Lawrie plays in his own tournament if he does not climb into a high enough place on the Order of Merit.
It will not necessarily be the leading 64 in the Order of Merit, but the pecking order will be established by the rankings and the top 60 (+4 invitations) who enter will make up the field.  
The North-east event will offer up-and-coming players the opportunity to gain vital match play experience on one of Scotland’s top links courses. 
Big crowds are expected to make their way to Murcar Links for the tournament and a one-way system will be established to cope with the increased traffic. A temporary exit road will be laid through a farmer's field.
Still to be decided is whether or not to build a grandstand for specators, if not at the 18th - none of the matches is guaranteed to get to that green! - then at the first tee which would give a good view of the 18th hole as well.
This week's Cadillac world match-play championship in America guarantees each of its field of 64 players at least three matches, having divided the field into 16 "pods" of four players who will play each other to produce a 16 "pod" winners. This is a major change from the usual format.
But Paul Lawrie says he favours and prefers the sudden-death format which will be in place at the Murcar Links tournament.
"I think it makes it a little bit more exciting, certainly for the fans," said Paul. "There is a danger that all the leading players are knocked out in the first round but that's all part and parcel of match-play golf as I understand it.
"We don't play enough of it on the European Tour. In fact, as you know, this is the only match-play event apart from the Ryder Cup on our calendar.
"A lot of the pros, certainly the ones who have not made Ryder Cup or Seve Cup, etc appearances, have not played match-play since they were amateurs."      
Lawrie had a handicap of five but his game came on in leaps and bounds once he joined the Banchory Golf Club pro staff under the late Doug Smart.  
"I wasn't good enough to play in the boys' events as an amateur so my first real go at match-play was probably the World match-play championship at Wentworth," said Paul. 
This is the first time that\ Lawrie has hosted an event at the top level of European golf, having previously supported the game at grassroots level through the Paul Lawrie Foundation.   
Mike Loggie, pictured, Chief Executive of Saltire Energy, said: “We are proud to support Paul as he brings this new European Tour event to the Granite City. It is championships such as this which will see Aberdeen recognised for its immense sporting talent on a global stage.
“We are strong advocates of encouraging young people to get more involved in sports through our Saltire in the Community Programme. It is great that the rare Match Play format of this event gives promising golfing professionals the chance to play it on Tour and raise their profiles. This new and exciting golf event is also sure to appeal to sports fans of all ages due to the incentives there are on offer for families.
“Saltire Energy is a long-time supporter of local sports teams and initiatives including Aberdeen Football Club and its Youth Academy. It is great to see the sporting community coming together to show their backing of a new North East tournament.”
Murcar Links may or may not be the venue for the guaranteed three editions (2015-2016-2017) of the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie European Tour match-play tournament.
"We are only thinking about the inaugural tournament at the moment," said Paul. "Whether it goes on again at Murcar Links next year or elsewhere is something for us to decide after it has been played for the first time and we can sit down and take stock of the situation." 
Saltire Energy became the sponsor of Aberdeen Football Club (AFC) in June 2014, which saw the Group enter a three-year deal to support the first-team Pittodrie squad and youth teams. Saltire Energy has been the sponsor of AFC’s youth development programme, AFC Youth Academy, since 2008, and become the sole sponsor in 2014 as part of the agreement.
The Paul Lawrie Foundation was launched in 2001, two years after Paul famously won The 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie. It provides opportunities for juniors of any age to start playing golf, compete at golf and improve their capabilities to the highest level. The mission of the Foundation is to encourage as many young people to play golf as possible, but also to give youngsters the chance to develop their golf with the Foundation and go on to win on tour, and ultimately, win a Major Championship.



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