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Wednesday, November 17, 1999 Published at 12:42 GMT

Lawrie opts out of Europe

Open winner Paul Lawrie will chance his luck in the USA

Open champion Paul Lawrie has joined the American tour and will play the majority of his golf next season in the United States.

Lawrie, who shot to fame at Carnoustie in July, said: "The decision has taken some time but at this stage of my career I feel that it is something I would like to do.

"I intend to play the bulk of my schedule on the US Tour for the foreseeable future whilst also maintaining a significant schedule on the European Tour which will enable me to retain my European Tour card."

The 30-year-old Scot was 10 strokes behind Frenchman Jean Van de Velde with 18 holes to go at the British Open.

But Van de Velde triple-bogeyed the final hole to drop into a play-off with Lawrie and American Justin Leonard and Lawrie birdied the last two holes to triumph.

He was 159th in the world rankings at the time but now stands 44th and finished sixth on the European Order of Merit, easily his highest placing since he turned professional in 1986.

Big four collide

Lawrie flies to Hawaii for the Grand Slam of Golf next week, where he is guaranteed £90,000 even if he finishes last and could win nearly £300,000.

The matchplay event brings together the four winners of the major championships each year, although Davis Love is in the field this time following the tragic air death of US Open champion Payne Stewart.

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