Lawrie joins American Tour

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The Independent Online

The British Open champion, Paul Lawrie, today made the biggest decision of his life - to join the American tour.

The British Open champion, Paul Lawrie, today made the biggest decision of his life - to join the American tour.

"The decision has taken some time but at this stage of my career I feel that it is something I would like to do," said the 30-year-old from Aberdeen.

"I intend to play the bulk of my schedule on the US Tour for the foreseeable future whilst also maintaining a significant schedule on the European Tour which will enable me to retain my European Tour card."

Lawrie, married with two young children, shot to fame in July by staging the greatest last-day comeback in major championship history.

He was 10 strokes behind Frenchman Jean Van de Velde with 18 holes to go and even when he shot a 67 did not think he had a chance to win.

But Van de Velde triple-bogeyed the final hole to drop into a play-off with Lawrie and American Justin Leonard and the Scot birdied the last two holes to triumph.

He was 159th in the world rankings at the time but now stands 44th and finished sixth on the European Order of Merit, easily his highest placing since he turned professional in 1986.

Soon after winning the Open he purchased a Porsche and one of the biggest houses in Aberdeen. He moved in only last month.

Next week he flies to Hawaii for the Grand Slam of Golf, where he is guaranteed £90,000 even if he finishes last and could win nearly £300,000.

The matchplay event brings together the four winners of the major championships each year, although Davis Love is in the field this time following the tragic air death of US Open champion Payne Stewart. Lawrie plays world number one Tiger Woods in the semi-finals.

He made his Ryder Cup debut in September, partnering Colin Montgomerie in foursomes and fourballs, and with a victory over Jeff Maggert in the singles finished as joint-leading points scorer.

Montgomerie, European number one for the past seven seasons, has always resisted joining the US Tour for family reasons.

Lawrie added that he had made the decision so he could both "fulfil my potential and improve my world ranking position".

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