DOHA, QATAR | With apologies to Prince, Paul
Lawrie is back to playing like it’s 1999. And that
would be just fine for the 43-year-old Scot, who
lived up to his nickname of “Chippy” by chipping
in twice Sunday in a closing 65 that left him four
shots clear of the field at the Commercialbank
Lawrie won his second Qatar title, which was
reduced to 54 holes after Friday’s second round
was cancelled by high winds. He posted rounds
of 69-67-65 for a 54-hole total of 15-under-par
201. Australian Jason Day, who matched Lawrie’s 65 on Sunday, and Swede Peter Hanson (67)
shared second on 11-under 205.
American John Daly, who hadn’t played in
nearly six weeks, finished a surprising solo fourth
on 9-under 207, including a final-round 67.
The victory was Lawrie’s seventh on the
European Tour. He has finished in the top 10 in
all three starts this season and is back among
the world’s top 50 for the first time since 2003.
Less than a year ago, he was 272nd.
He is now on course to win a second berth in
the Ryder Cup 13 years after his first, and if he
can stay in the top 50 for another seven weeks
he will make a return to The Masters at Augusta National in April after an eight-year gap.
Lawrie is also in form to win multiple tournaments in a season for the second time in his
career. The first came in 1999 when he won in
Qatar and later that year at the Open Championship at Carnoustie, made infamous by the
implosion of Frenchman Jean van de Velde on
the 72nd hole.
Reminded that his 1999 victory in Qatar was
followed five months later by lifting the Claret
Jug at Carnoustie, Lawrie said: “Now wouldn’t
that be nice to get that again?”
This was Lawrie’s first success since his
long-time coach Adam Hunter died of leukemia
in October and Lawrie was close to tears when
reminded of that afterwards.
“I don’t think I can play much better than
that,” he said. “I’ve been playing well for a long,
long time, but it’s just nice to come out ahead
and shoot seven under.”
Lawrie’s first chip-in came on the par- 5
ninth just after Sergio Garcia had caught him,
and the eagle put him two in front again.
Garcia, 6 under for the first 11 holes, then
bogeyed the 13th and 15th to drop out of the race
and it was Day who applied the pressure. The
24-year-old runner-up in both The Masters and
U.S. Open last year, began each half with four
successive birdies, but a bogey six on the ninth
left him with too much ground to make up.