Paul Lawrie was at back home in Aberdeen regripping his new set of black Wilson FG Tour Staff irons when he found out he’d made The Open cut at +8 – and duly had to make a two and a half hour dash back south to return to Muirfield.
Given his bad opening round of 81, he followed it up with a 69 but still headed home, only to be granted a late reprieve when the cut went out to +8.
“I didn’t think seven over had any chance, let alone eight, so we packed up and went home, got to walk the dog and while we were walking the dog, our west highland terrier Bobo, the texts started coming through, so I could tell I’d made it,” laughed Lawrie.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever done anything like that before. Thankfully, it’s only just up the road. Can you imagine if it was overseas? When I came off the course I just couldn’t see +8 making it. It just shows you how tough the course is.”
Fortunately the 1999 Open champion had booked into Greywalls, the hotel that neighbours Muirfield and provides the backdrop to hole 10, for a week, so could phone up and reclaim his room.
The Lawries arrived back at 11.20pm on Friday night – not that all the travelling bothered him; he shot a 70 in his third round and teed off at 11.10 on Sunday +7 for The Open in the company of Todd Hamilton, the 2004 winner.
Lawrie famously came from ten shots back in 1999 at Carnoustie with his final round 65 to book his place in the four-hole play-off and defeat Jean Van de Velde and Justin Leonard.
But he isn’t quite sure that history will repeat itself at Muirfield. “It’s just a shame I had such a horrid, horrible first round. I played terrible, the worst I have played in a long time. But the next two days I’ve just played with lovely rhythm and didn’t get too technical. And the 70 should have been less had I putted a bit better.
“I am not quite sure I’ve got another 1999 in me but I’ll be aiming for another 67 or so. If you play good out there and the wind doesn’t get up, anything is possible. But Muirfield is tough. Whoever wins here will deserve to because they’ve adjusted, played it hard and fast. It’s links golf. That’s the game.”