Updated: August 28, 2012, 4:39 PM ET

Paul Lawrie returns to Ryder Cup

Harig By Bob Harig
Paul Lawrie is an easy golfer to overlook, especially for Americans not accustomed to seeing him play. Their memory very well may be of the guy who was the beneficiary of Jean Van de Velde's historic meltdown at Carnoustie in 1999, and as a member of the European Ryder Cup team that fall at Brookline.

Lawrie never did play in another Ryder Cup, and his career has been average at best.

But Lawrie, 43, has seen a resurgence of late. His victory Sunday at the Johnnie Walker Championship in Scotland was the third of his career on home soil and gave the European team an added boost heading into the Ryder Cup, which begins Sept. 28 at Medinah.

And yes, Lawrie will be there, making the team 13 years after his first and only appearance -- one that brings fond memories, despite the defeat, and the burning desire to return to such an important event.

[+] EnlargeLawrie
Andrew Redington/Getty ImagesPaul Lawrie is back on Europe's Ryder Cup team after a 13-year absence.

"I would have said that the first tee shot that I hit in Brookline was the most nervous I've ever been on a golf course," Lawrie said at the Johnnie Walker, having wrapped up a spot on this year's team before winning the Johnnie Walker. "There's no question. I don't think anything even comes close to that.

"I felt in control at the playoff at the Open (where he defeated Van de Velde and Justin Leonard after shooting 66 in the final round) and I certainly wasn't in control of anything I was doing on that first tee. It was a weird experience. But once you hit it and hit a decent shot, you feel all right. But that's the most nervous I've ever been. Maybe I would like to hit it again, it would be cool."

Lawrie's first shot was in foursomes, and it was the first match of the competition. Paired with countryman Colin Montgomerie, they would defeat Phil Mickelson and David Duval.

That was what Lawrie remembers most about the Ryder Cup.

"I would have to admit that yeah, miss it, and I'll take it," he said. "You have no idea the feeling. All of the team is on the tee. All of the captains are on the tee. All of the wives are on the tee. There's unbelievable amounts of press there, and, man, you just know ... I don't get like that. I see people in the crowd; I'm pretty focused. I don't get too excited when I do well, and I don't get too down when I'm not and I focus on that on the golf course. But that tee, that was pretty different."

Lawrie went on to have an outstanding Ryder Cup, overshadowed by the team loss and his partnership with Montgomerie, one of Europe's all-time best. They went 2-1-1 together, earning a half-point in the afternoon of the first day against Davis Love III and Leonard and winning again Saturday afternoon in a four-ball match against Tiger Woods and Steve Pate. Their only defeat was against Jeff Maggert and Hal Sutton.

Still, Lawrie and Montgomerie had helped Europe take what appeared to be an overwhelming lead into the final-day singles, when the Americans staged the biggest rally in Ryder Cup history. The Europeans led by 4 points and needed only a combination of 4 points to force a tie and retain the Cup. They would get just 3 .

The U.S. won eight matches and halved another to regain the Cup in a thrilling and controversial conclusion. The only European victories that day were by Lawrie over Maggert, Padraig Harrington over Mark O'Meara and by Montgomerie over Payne Stewart in a match that was conceded by Stewart on the final hole after the U.S. had clinched the Cup.

To get back to that arena, Lawrie has had a career year, with two victories on the European Tour and seven top-10 finishes. He also won in 2011 after having posted no victories since 2002. He now has a total of eight European Tour titles.

"It's been 13 years," he said of the Ryder Cup. "I don't think it's unfinished business for me. We were ahead 10-6 as a team playing Sunday and the Americans played some phenomenal golf in the first five or six games (of singles). I think all of them were probably 5- and 6-under. It's just massive golf in that environment with that pressure, so they won, and rightly so.

"I'm going into this one looking as confident as I was the last time. Looking forward to it, can't wait. Obviously Chicago is going to be quite busy and quite loud. I think all of the teams are playing well. So it will be good."


Nick Watney moved into the top 10 in FedEx Cup points for the first time this year with his victory at The Barclays. He had been in 49th position heading into the tournament. Last year, Watney led the FedEx heading into the playoffs and ended up finishing ninth ... Watney is a good example of the volatility of the playoffs and what winning can do. He had just three top-10s this year, his best a tie for eighth. Now he leads the standings ... Brandt Snedeker, with his runner-up finish, moved to No. 2 in the standings ... Sergio Garcia was trying to become the first player since Tiger Woods in 2009 (Buick Open, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational) to win back-to-back events on the PGA Tour. He settled for a tie for third. Garcia is skipping this week's Deutsche Bank Championship but is 10th in the standings and a good bet to return to the Tour Championship (for the top 30) for the first time since 2008, the year he lost two playoff events in playoffs ... Woods has three victories this year, but in 12 tour starts, he's been over par in the final round six times ... This is Lee Westwood's first appearance in the FedEx Cup playoffs. He tied for fifth at The Barclays and is now 27th in points ... Inbee Park didn't win the Canadian Open on Sunday, but she sure got a great second-prize consolation: first-place money of $300,000. Because winner Lydia Ko is an amateur, Park collected the top prize, despite being three shots back ... Colin Montgomerie's tie for sixth at the Johnnie Walker Championship was his best finish of the year and first top 10 since the 2011 BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour ... Casey Martin, the Oregon golf coach and former PGA Tour player who successfully sued to be able to use a cart in competition, has accepted sponsor exemptions to play in the PGA Tour's Justin Timberlake event in Las Vegas as well as a Web.com Tour event in Boise, Idaho. Martin qualified for this year's U.S. Open, where he missed the cut.

Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.


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