Paul Lawrie says he’s looking forward to seeing his matchplay tournament continue to progress
By Bryce Ritchie
Paul Lawrie has described the second staging of his European Tour event as “absolutely brilliant” - but said there is still more to come.
The Paul Lawrie Match Play Championship, won by Anthony Wall, took place at Archerfield Links and has one more year left on its contract with the European Tour – yet Lawrie says he doubts the event will close following next year’s contest.
Wall, 41, stopped Alex Noren from completing a Scottish double with a one-up victory to win his second European Tour title a record 16 years and 204 days after his maiden triumph.
The Englishman’s wait between titles is the longest in European Tour history, the 431 events since his first triumph in South Africa surpassing the previous high of 276 set by Christy O’Connor Jnr.
Lawrie said the format was the main selling point to the players and added that he is looking forward to improving the contest for next year.
“It’s been an excellent event,” said the Aberdonian, who is one of Darren Clarke’s Ryder Cup vice-captains. “The feedback again from the players, like it was last year, was that they love the format. They love the idea of a straight knock-out.
“The venue couldn’t be any better for us. I’m delighted with how it’s come across and how it’s played. The driving range, pitching green, chipping green, putting green, everything’s handy, everything’s nearby, all the offices are there, and the spectator village is better I think than it was last year.
“This is only our second year, so we are learning, as well as everyone else is. But I think it’s been absolutely brilliant. We’ve got one more year on our contract with the European Tour but we don’t see this stopping or being a short-term thing. Obviously we have to sit down and debrief with everyone on how things have gone so we can learn and, hopefully, progress further.”
On the numbers of spectators who turned out, Lawrie admitted he wouldlike to see more but admits that he understands the reasons for a relatively low turn-out.
“Obviously, we would like a few more, there’s no questions about that,” he said. “But we understand why they don’t come in massive numbers. The Scottish Open is a really big tournament, and the Open was in Scotland this year, and then a few weeks later it’s our event. But we’re supported very well. We understand it’s difficult but the ones that do come, we’re pleased to see them.
“I think, for £15 a day, those who come get a great experience. All in all, I think it’s a great event.”
Wall overcame a sluggish start at Archerfield and eventually secured a one-up win over favouriteNoren, who was going for a Scottish double after winning the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart in July.
Indeed, the Swede was a combined 19-under-par for the front nine over the first five rounds and made another flying start in the final.
However, he was pegged back by Wall, who made par at the long finishing hole, leaving Noren needing to hole from 15 feet to keep the match alive. He couldn’t convert, handing an emotional victory to the Englishman.
“It’s funny, the other win in 2000 felt like yesterday!” said Wall. “It’s amazing. It’s such a hard job to beat everyone because everyone is so good. It just feels amazing. I cannot tell you how happy I am.
“I did wonder whether it would ever come again. I’m just so pleased for my parents. They put in so much when I was young. I’ve got two children that just want to see their dad win. I’m speechless. It’s phenomenal.
“I don’t know what the difference was this week. I had been struggling a bit this year but you don’t know what you’re going to get in this game. It can turn around so quickly. I felt calm all week and I found something with my putting which obviously made a massive difference.”
James Morrison won the third-place play-off 4&2 against Oliver Fisher.