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Sunday, July 18, 1999 Published at 22:44 GMT 23:44 UK

Lawrie the local hero

Delighted ground staff congratulate Lawrie

Paul Lawrie came back from the dead at 10 over on the third day to win the Open Championship at Carnoustie in one of the most gripping conclusions in the competition's history.

The victory was particularly sweet for the Scot as a highly partisan crowd cheered his transformation from local boy to national hero.

He acknowledged this as he collected the Claret Jug.

"I'd like to thank all my family, my wife - everyone that knows me," he said to laughter.

"Which is a lot of you now," added the champion.

Lawrie's rise to golfing stardom began in humble surroundings.

He left school at 17 to work as a taxi driver with his father, while playing golf at Banchory Golf Club near Aberdeen under the late Doug Smart.

There, he learnt to master the unpredictable Scottish golf courses - a skill that would be of untold benefit in the future.

After the victory, he said: "I am 30, but I feel my career is just starting. I feel I can compete with the big guys now.

"This course was very, very tough, bordering on silly. But the guys who whinged have not done very well.

"I have won here before and I really looked forward to the Open."

Sixth in '93

In 1992 the young Scot, backed by a consortium of local businessmen, won the UAP Under-25's Championship by eight strokes.

His performances in other high profile tournaments have also been impressive.

Lawrie's best before Sunday came in the 1993 Open, when he holed a three-iron at the 17th to finish sixth behind Greg Norman.

He has been sponsored for the past two years by Newmachar Golf Club near Aberdeen.

Club Captain George Mitchell said: "I always knew he could do it. We are absolutely delighted here.

'Down to earth'

"The response to him winning was just unbelievable and everyone was glued to the TV as soon as we realised he was in with a real chance. We always said anything could happen at Carnoustie, well it has.

"He is a local guy and very down to earth. He will play with anyone and he is a really nice guy. I don't think winning will change his attitude, although it will change his life."

Scotland's First Minister, Donald Dewar, said: "This was a smashing victory for a young Scottish golfer on his home ground and after such a nail biting finish. Scotland can be proud of him."

US Masters next

In February this year, Lawrie led from the front to win the Qatar Masters and a cheque for more than 140,000.

His surprise win in the Open makes him the first qualifier in the history of the competition to win the Open.

It also secures him another international platform on which to show off his talents, at the forthcoming US Masters.

He has also earned a place on the European Ryder Cup team to defend the trophy against the United States at Brookline in September.

Paul Lawrie factfile

  • Date of Birth: New Year's Day 1969
  • Family: Wife Marian, four-year-old Craig and seventh-month-old Michael
  • Hobbies: snooker and shooting
  • Current tour: European Tour
  • Attachment: Newmacher Golf Club
Career wins
  • 1999 July: Open Champion, February: Qatar Masters
  • 1996 Catalan Open
  • 1992 UAP Under-25's Championship
  • 1990 Scottish Assistant Professionals Champion

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