DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Former British Open champion Paul Lawrie endured plenty of ribbing from his two sons during a nine-year title drought on the European Tour. After finally winning again in March, the Scot wants to show the boys it wasn’t a fluke.
The 42-year-old jumped out to an early clubhouse lead Thursday at the Dubai World Championship Thursday, sinking seven birdies on his way to a 7-under 65. He eventually settled for second after the first round, a shot behind Peter Hanson of Sweden.
Lawrie, whose two sons Craig and Michael are aspiring golfers, said a win this weekend would help show his sons their father can still play.
“My boys are 16 and 12 and I don’t want them seeing dad as sort of a poor player,” Lawrie said. “You want to be a good player for them. They were giving me a bit of ribbing in that nine years that I had not won, which is fair for teenagers. That drives me on, the fact that I want to be a decent player for them, that I want to be back in the top 50, that would be nice.”
Lawrie’s win in March at the Andalucian Open was his first since he won the 2002 Wales Open and his sixth overall. Since then, the 163rd-ranked player’s game has run hot and cold, with only one top-10 finish.
He “played terrible” in the final round to finish 46th at the Hong Kong Open last week, but said he felt better after hitting some balls upon his arrival in Dubai on Monday.
The results proved that.
He birdied four of the last five holes on the front nine and the first two holes on the back. The key, Lawrie said, was that he “hit the ball pin-high a lot today” and had one of his best “putting days for a long time.”
“Yeah, played nice today. Hit the ball solid,” he said. “Gave myself a lot of chances out there, especially a wee run from the fifth through to the 14th.”
Lawrie said the winless run never bothered him and that he still feels he has more victories in him, even if he is one of the tour’s oldest players.
“It’s not something I kind of struggle with or thought a lot about,” said Lawrie, who turned pro at 17. “You know, there’s an unbelievable amount of good players in Europe now. Winning is not easy. We know all that.”
Lawrie said some of his toughest competition is now coming from his two sons. His 16-year-old Craig is a scratch golfer keen to one day turn pro and 12-year-old Michael has a 5 handicap. Once he was teaching them, now he faces the prospect of losing to them.
“They have both beaten me scrach in the last sort of year or so — and I’ve just given you a headline,” Lawrie said with a smile. “The first time Craig beat me … I wasn’t paying attention and we got to the ninth and I realized he was beating me. He had about a 5-footer to beat me at the last. And I even tried to put him off. I said, ‘You know this is to win?’ And he went: ‘Yeah’ and just knocked it right down the middle.”
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.