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Page last updated at 11:28 GMT, Monday, 28 March 2011 12:28 UK

Martin Laird leaps up world rankings

Martin Laird sinks the winning putt at Bay Hill
Laird celebrates sinking the winning putt at Bay Hill

Scotland's Martin Laird has moved to a career-high 21st in the world on the back of his dramatic Arnold Palmer Invitational victory.

Laird, who went into the event ranked 40th, won his second PGA Tour title by one stroke despite a wobbly closing round of 75 at Bay Hill.

Earlier on Sunday, compatriot Paul Lawrie also enjoyed a one-shot victory at the Andalucian Open in Malaga.

The former Open champion moves from 272nd in the world to 150th.

Lawrie's success in Spain was his sixth triumph as a European Tour player but his first since the Wales Open in 2002.

And the victory has brought the added bonus of a place in the Volvo World Match Play Championship in May at Finca Cortesin near Marbella.

Lawrie and Andalucian Open runner-up Johan Edfors qualify for an elite 24-man field which will include the world's top two Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood, US Open champion Graeme McDowell, Paul Casey and Rory McIlroy.

One ahead overnight in Malaga, Lawrie bogeyed the first two holes, allowing playing partner Mark Foster to move three clear.

But Foster faltered with three successive bogeys and Lawrie's four birdies in five holes at the start of the back nine proved decisive.

"You obviously have times when you don't think it will happen again but when it does it makes it all the more sweet," the Aberdonian told BBC Radio Scotland.

"Right now, the European Tour is the strongest it has ever been, so you understand that the competition is severe.


"It's hard to win, so I'm chuffed to bits."

Laird also had a scare, having gone from two ahead to three behind Steve Marino.

But the American bogeyed the 15th, double-bogeyed the short 17th and birdied the last while Laird birdied the 15th and 16th and parred the last two to become the first European to win at Bay Hill in its 33-year history.

As a result, the US-based Glaswegian has leapfrogged the likes of Miguel Angel Jimenez, Justin Rose, Edoardo Molinari and Padraig Harrington in the world rankings.

"It's a huge win for Martin," Lawrie added. "Scottish golf is starting to recover again.

"It was a little poor for a while, not for lack of effort or commitment by the players or lack of talent. It was just one of those periods that certain sports go through."

After Laird, Stephen Gallacher is the next best Scot in the rankings at 74th.

With eight-time European order of merit winner Colin Montgomerie in decline, Scotland did not have a single player in the game's top 100 at the start of last year.

We just need to get up there and get experience and to have two wins in one week is obviously huge

Martin Laird

"It's no secret that Scottish golf has been down for a few years after Monty's dominance," said Laird.

"Now we have got a lot of good players. We just need to get up there and get experience and to have two wins in one week is obviously huge."

Laird, who has based himself in the States since his college days, is now focusing on his first tilt at the Masters.

The 28-year-old had his first look at Augusta National two weeks ago and said: "Loved the golf course. I feel like it really does set up pretty good for me with hitting it high.

"And I know those greens will get real firm (as they were at Bay Hill). Obviously, putting is probably the strongest part of my game right now and that's really what it all comes down to coming down the stretch at Augusta."

Latest leading positions in the world rankings:

1 Martin Kaymer 7.87pts, 2 Lee Westwood 7.54, 3 Luke Donald 6.55, 4 Graeme McDowell 6.19, 5 Tiger Woods 5.81, 6 Phil Mickelson 5.70, 7 Paul Casey 5.63, 8 Rory McIlroy 5.44, 9 Matt Kuchar 5.33, 10 Steve Stricker 5.24, 11 Jim Furyk 5.04, 12 Dustin Johnson 4.99, 13 Ernie Els 4.72, 14 Nick Watney 4.65, 15 Francesco Molinari 4.47, 16 Ian Poulter 4.47, 17 Bubba Watson 4.35, 18 Hunter Mahan 4.18, 19 Retief Goosen 4.16, 20 Robert Karlsson 4.07

Other leading Europeans:

21 Martin Laird, 24 Miguel Angel Jimenez, 25 Alvaro Quiros, 26 Justin Rose, 27 Edoardo Molinari, 36 Padraig Harrington, 37 Peter Hanson, 42 Anders Hansen, 43 Ross Fisher, 55 Matteo Manassero, 65 Thomas Bjorn, 72 Sergio Garcia, 74 Stephen Gallacher, 77 Raphael Jacquelin, 82 Simon Dyson, 85 Henrik Stenson, 89 Fredrik Andersson Hed, 93 Brian Davis, 94 Rhys Davies, 100 Danny Willett.

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see also
Laird battles to Bay Hill victory
27 Mar 11 |  Golf
Scot Lawrie breaks title drought
27 Mar 11 |  Golf


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