Wilson sponsorship ends for Lawrie

Open champion Paul Lawrie, who leaves on Monday for the start of a new career based in America, and club manufacturers Wilson have mutally agreed to end their seven-year association.

Open champion Paul Lawrie, who leaves on Monday for the start of a new career based in America, and club manufacturers Wilson have mutally agreed to end their seven-year association.

"In view of Paul's recent decision to play mostly in America next year, it would not have made commerical sense for us to continue to work with him in Europe," said Angus Moir, golf business director for Wilson in Europe.

"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."

Only in January Lawrie signed a deal designed to keep him with Wilson until 2002, but his switch to the US Tour has apparently allowed him to weigh up other offers.

The 30-year-old Scot's management company were unable tonight to reveal any details of what is in the pipeline.

"All I can do is confirm the end of the Wilson contract," said spokesperson Caroline Kingston.

Lawrie is in Phoenix, Arizona, next week for the Tiger Woods-organised Williams World Challenge between 12 of the game's leading lights. First prize is £625,000 and even last place is worth £75,000.

He then moves on to Hawaii for the start of the US Tour, but does plan to play enough European tour events to retain membership.

Ranked only 159th in the world at the start of July, Lawrie came through the qualifying event for the Open at Carnoustie, where he staged the greatest comeback in major championship history.

Ten strokes behind with a round to play, he shot a four under par 67 and pulled level with Jean Van de Velde and Justin Leonard when the Frenchman incredibly triple-bogeyed the final hole when three strokes clear.

In the four-hole play-off which followed Lawrie birdied the last two holes to become the unlikely champion.

On top of the £350,000 first prize he received a £50,000 bonus from Wilson and has since had offers from all over the world.

He was joint top points-scorer on his Ryder Cup debut in September, partnering European number one - and fellow Scot - Colin Montgomerie in foursomes and fourballs.

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