Scotland’s Paul Lawrie marked the official confirmation of his return to the European Ryder Cup team after 13 years with a resounding four-shot victory in the Johnnie Walker Championship on Sunday.
Article continues below ...
The 43-year-old Lawrie, who started the final round leading by a stroke, shot a final-round 68 to finish with a 16-under 272 total on the rain-softened PGA National Course at Gleneagles that will host the 2014 Ryder Cup.
Brett Rumford (68) of Australia was second for his best finish in two years on 12 under.
Holland’s Maarten Lafeber (69), France’s Romain Wattel (72) and Sweden’s Fredrik Andersson Hed (65) shared third place on 11 under par.
The win is Lawrie’s second tour win this season and the eighth of his career.
"It feels pretty good to be Johnnie Walker champion and it’s been probably one of the best ball-striking weeks of my career," he said. "But then I putted pretty poorly and shot four under shows just how well I have been striking the ball and I’ve also been hitting a bit longer this week and that has helped."
However, of more importance to Lawrie was the official confirmation of his return to the European Ryder Cup team.
As a result, Lawrie holds the distinction of the second-longest period between his Ryder Cup debut (in 1999 at Brookline) and his next appearance (at Medinah in Chicago next month).
Ireland’s Christy O’Connor Jr. holds the record for the longest gap between appearances at 14 years after competing for the 1975 European team at Laurel Valley in Pennsylvania and returning for the 1989 Ryder Cup at The Belfry in England.
"Confidence-wise the last six weeks has not been easy and I have not played as well as I did at the start of the year," said Lawrie. "But by getting the Ryder Cup situation out of the way I have played really well and won the tournament, and if you are not going to be the most confident … going to the Ryder Cup you are going to struggle.
"However Rory (McIlroy) winning the PGA Championship is a huge lift for the team and for a European to win the last Major is massive. So I will be going to my second Ryder Cup playing nicely and hitting it lovely and I’m looking forward to it."