Golf: Lawrie leaves Wilson behind

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THE OPEN champion, Paul Lawrie, who leaves on Monday for the start of a new career based in America, has parted company with the club manufacturers Wilson after a seven-year association.

"In view of Paul's recent decision to play mostly in America next year, it would not have made commercial sense for us to continue to work with him in Europe," Angus Moir, golf business director for Wilson in Europe, said. "We're disappointed to see the contract end after such a successful year for both Paul and Wilson. We're confident that we can continue to sustain a high tour profile in Europe."

Lawrie signed a deal in January designed to keep him with Wilson until 2002, but his switch to the US has allowed him to weigh up other offers. The 30-year-old's management company were unable last night to reveal details of any new deals.

Lawrie is in Phoenix, Arizona, next week for the Tiger Woods-organised Williams World Challenge between 12 of the game's leading players. He then moves on to Hawaii for the start of the US Tour, but plans to play enough European Tour events to retain membership.

Ranked 159th in the world at the start of July, Lawrie came through the qualifying event for the Open at Carnoustie, where he staged a famous comeback.

Ten strokes behind with a round to play, he shot a four- under-par 67 to pull level with Jean Van de Velde and Justin Leonard when the Frenchman triple-bogeyed the final hole when three strokes clear. In the four-hole play-off Lawrie birdied the last two holes to become champion.