Lawrie seeking Ryder return

Paul Lawrie believes he can return to Europe’s Ryder Cup side after a gap of 11 years – despite not winning since 2002.

Paul Lawrie believes he can return to Europe’s Ryder Cup side after a gap of 11 years – despite not winning since 2002.
Qualifying for Colin Montgomerie’s side starts in Switzerland on Thursday and Lawrie has been buoyed rather than deflated by a third-place finish in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles yesterday.
“I feel the things I’m working on and the way my game is now, I’ve got a real chance at making that team,” said the 40-year-old former Open champion, who, after leading by two at halfway, finished three shots behind Sweden’s Peter Hedblom.
“You’ve got to think that in your head. I could have easily won. It’s a fine line and this week it was just incredibly fine.
“I think if you’re third it’s a good week and it was another solid week of ball-striking.
“I also think that the worst I could have finished was 10-under – that’s how I see it.
“I’ve had two short misses with the ball bobbling over the green and I’ve had two shots rolling over the pin and made bogey with both. That’s hard to take.”
Lawrie, who remains Britain’s last major champion, is having a week off now and will enter the cup race in Cologne next week.
Montgomerie is also missing the Omega European Masters, but says he will be watching “avidly” on television.
“I feel I need a week to recharge my batteries,” says the man who partnered Lawrie on his cup debut in 1999 and is now in charge.
“It has been a demanding three-week spell recently with travel to the United States and the Netherlands and then in my role as chairman of the Johnnie Walker Championship.
“I’ve been watching more golf recently than I have ever done in the past and that will continue to be the case as the race for the Ryder Cup points kicks off.
“I wish everyone attempting to earn a place in my team the very best of luck.”
Hedblom is certainly a player in form as the gun goes off in the year-long campaign.
After losing a play-off to England’s Simon Dyson in Holland – his fourth sudden death defeat out of four in his career – the 39-year-old hit back with a one-shot win over fellow countryman Martin Erlandsson.
From six behind Erlandsson produced a breath-taking 62, the lowest round of his life, but Hedblom birdied the long 16th and parred the last two for his third European Tour win, but his first actually on European soil.
The previous two were in Morocco and Malaysia.
Two weeks ago he had not had a top 30 finish all season and has worried about keeping his card.
Now he has gone second-first and is up to 40th on the money list.
It looks like it was an inspired move to take himself off earlier this month to an island in Sweden – Prastgrundet – with just “22 small houses” on it to forget about golf for a while.
Erlandsson’s runners-up finish also clears away any worries he had about returning to the qualifying school and for him one of the keys was staring at his thumb.
He admits he has struggled with the mental side under pressure and as a result his psychologist, a former international hurdler, recommended turning his mind to other things.
“I was looking at my thumb and wondering how it looked,” he said.
“I was also trying to look at a tree or somebody in the audience to keep my mind at peace.”