Year of rags to riches for Open Champion

A year which began with him paying £10 to enter a tournament in which he shivered and carried his own clubs ends this week with Paul Lawrie in Arizona for an event where last place is worth £75,000.

A year which began with him paying £10 to enter a tournament in which he shivered and carried his own clubs ends this week with Paul Lawrie in Arizona for an event where last place is worth £75,000.

Lawrie is competing from Wednesday to Sunday - with a break on Friday to see in the new millennium - against Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia and nine more of golf's biggest names.

The Williams World Challenge organised by Woods' own benevolent foundation offers a million dollars to the winner. But just to be part of it underlines how much Lawrie's life has changed in 12 months.

In January he was playing in the Scottish North-east Golfers' Alliance at Buckpool near his Aberdeen home.

"You pay £10 to the secretary of the alliance and off you go in the freezing cold with your woolly hat and waterproofs on and carrying your own clubs," recalls the man who now rejoices in the name of Open champion.

"I had a 10 on the 10th hole but then birdied five of the last seven and finished joint first."

He shot 66 for the 17 holes of the event (the other was out of use) and earned the princely sum of £90. Winning the Open was worth £350,000.

"The way I'm starting 2000 is a bit different, to say the least," said Lawrie, who from Phoenix moves on to Hawaii for two weeks, then Australia, then back to America.

Lawrie could not have contemplated such a thing until that one dream-like day at Carnoustie in July when thanks to the best round of his life and then the best shot of his life - with the unbelievable collapse of Jean Van de Velde in between - he leapt from promising player to major champion. Just like that, as Tommy Cooper would have said.

The claret jug has pride of place in the "golf room" at Lawrie's luxurious new home in Aberdeen.

"People who come round want to hold it, of course, and I'm always looking at the list of names on it. It's a fantastic feeling to see mine on there as well."

He will not be seeing as much of it in the coming months after deciding to join the US Tour, but Scotland remains home and at every chance to come back he will.

"Global travel is so much easier nowadays, and when you play just in Europe it still takes time to get home," he says.

"After the World Championship at Valderrama in Spain in November, for instance, I didn't arrive back until Monday afternoon.

"With overnight flights from America I'll often be able to make it back for Monday morning.

"My wife plans to travel with me as much as we possibly can, and thankfully jet lag seems to be something I get over fairly quickly."

He has had a crash course in finding that out. Since the Open triumph Lawrie has been to America four times, most recently to Hawaii last month for the four-man Grand Slam of Golf, where after twisting an ankle he did finish last and on that occasion still picked up 90,000 US dollars.

The hardest part for Lawrie, 31 on New Year's Day, is the time away from his children - four-year-old Craig and baby Michael, just coming up to his first birthday. But as a career move he feels the opportunity to play in the States is too good to miss.

"I don't have an awful lot of expectations for early in the season. Hopefully I'll play nicely and compete, but it's in the long-term where I hope to see results."

Lawrie had only two European tour victories to his name before the Open and has not won since - but suddenly plunged into the league of superstars he has not looked out of his depth and by finishing joint top points-scorer on his Ryder Cup debut, where he partnered Colin Montgomerie, he has shown that the way he handled pressure at Carnoustie was no one-off.

Every Open winner has the chance to make a cash killing, naturally, and while he has certainly not overlooked the possibilities Lawrie points out that he has also turned down invitations to lots of tournaments "in far-flung places".

One he has accepted, not surprisingly, is to the Masters at Augusta in April. It will be his first trip there, and he said: "Can't wait for it. I first started watching it on television when I was 15, and it's every golfer's dream to play there."

Back in 1984 it must have seemed a million miles away. Even when he turned professional two years later his handicap was still four, and it was 1990 before he tried for a European tour card and a further 12 months before he earned one.

He worked as an assistant - "selling Mars bars and the like" - but always hoped to make playing the sport his living and looking back he says he would not change anything.

The most surprising Open champion for decades - he was 159th in the world at the time, had to come through qualifying and with a round to play was 10 strokes adrift of Van de Velde - is now looking for more success.

He will do so at least safe in the knowledge, of course, that nobody can ever take his name off the Open trophy.

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
News
i100
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
musicReview: 1989's songs attempt to encapsulate dramatic emotional change in a few striking lines
News
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Voices
Don’t try this at home: DIY has now fallen out of favour
voicesNick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of it
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
Sport
Phil Jones (left) attempts to stop the progress of West Bromwich Albion’s James Morrison on Monday
I'm not worried about United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Arts and Entertainment
Saw point: Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in ‘Serena’
filmReview: Serena is a strangely dour and downbeat affair
Life and Style
The Zinger Double Down King, which is a bun-less burger released in Korea
food + drinkKFC unveils breadless meat beast
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker