Scotland’s Paul Lawrie wrapped up a second victory in the Commercialbank Qatar Masters presented by Dolphin Energy today (Sunday) – a full thirteen years after lifting his first.
Leading overnight by one shot, the 43 year old Scot turned on the style to wrap up victory with a final round 65 to finish on 15-under par (201) and win by four shots from Australia’s Jason Day and Peter Hanson of Sweden after the tournament was reduced to 54 holes following high winds on Friday.
The last time the Scot lifted the Mother of Pearl trophy was the year he went on to become Open Champion but Lawrie believes he is an even better player than when he enjoyed Major success and played in The Ryder Cup.
“I’m far better than I was in 1999 – I’m striking the ball better and I’m much stronger from tee to green,” he said after receiving the trophy and the $416,660 winner’s cheque from Hassan Al Nuaimi, President of the Qatar Golf Association (QGA) and Commercialbank Group CEO Andrew Stevens.
“Apart from one tee shot, today was as good as I can play. You worry that you’ll lose your powers when you reach your forties but all my hard work hitting balls seems to be paying off. I think I have only missed one tournament here in fifteen years so to win twice is very special, especially against a field as good as this over a course that’s as tough as this.”
Lawrie went into the final round at Doha Golf Club with a slender one shot lead over Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts but the Scot quickly extended that with a birdie on the first. Spain’s Sergio Garcia managed to pull level with Lawrie on nine under before a chip-in eagle three by Lawrie on the ninth extended the Scot’s lead.
Bogeys on thirteen and fifteen put paid to Garcia’s charge leaving the way for Day – making his first appearance in Qatar – to post a clubhouse target for Lawrie.
The Australian came home with an impressive final round of 65 (-7) to finish on eleven-under par but it wasn’t enough as Lawrie breezed home with two birdies on the last three holes to wrap up the seventh European Tour title of his career and a fourth consecutive top ten finish.
It’s a win that fires him back into the world’s top fifty and opens up a host of opportunities including a possible Ryder Cup place.
“I think that win puts me in the top five spots for The Ryder Cup but I’m not kidding myself,” added Lawrie. “There are a lot of very good players outside the top five and there is a still a long way to go. I played under Jose Maria Olazabal when he was captain in the Royal Trophy and he was phenomenal so I would love to play for him again.”
For Day, it was a hugely successful first visit to Doha Golf Club. “It's been a very successful week and I did everything I could to try and catch him,” he said. “The wind wasn't up as much as the last few days but I’m excited to be heading back to the US to try and take this momentum into the PGA Tour.”
Tying with Day in second place, Hanson admitted the rest were playing for the runners-up spot once Lawrie got into his stride. “Paul played fantastic and hardly missed a shot,” said the Swede. “He holed out when he should, made all those clutch putts and chipped in a couple of times. To go out in the lead and shoot 65 on this golf course is an unbelievable achievement.”
Organised by the Qatar Golf Association (QGA), the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) and The Commercial Bank of Qatar, the $2.5 million tournament ended in style after the first two days were blighted by high winds and sand storms.
While Lawrie was romping to the title, other notable performances came from American John Daly – like Lawrie, another former Open Champion – who took fourth place on nine-under par, while Garcia, Jean Baptiste Gonnet, Ricardo Gonzalez and Soren Hansen tied in fifth place on eight under.
“It's a great start - a very unexpected start,” smiled the flamboyant Daly after a final round 67 (-5). “My goals are to get my European Tour card and maybe get into the DP World Tour Championship at the end of the year. I think if I can get into enough tournaments then that’s a realistic target I hope. If I just keep doing what I'm doing and working at it, then it's all about confidence for me.”