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November 21, 2012

Paul Lawrie


SCOTT CROCKETT:  Thank you for joining us, welcome back to Dubai.  Great season, let's start reflecting on last year here, second place finish.  It's obviously a course you enjoy.  Looking forward to coming back and playing again?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Absolutely, yeah.  Last year was a fantastic week.  Finished two shots behind to take second on my own.  Played lovely all week.
Holed a lot of putts this time last year which was nice, and obviously kind of quite keen to go one better this year would be fantastic.  But we'll wait and see what we get come tomorrow.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  Has how has the form been this week?  You've obviously played the course a couple times.
PAUL LAWRIE:¬† Yeah, I played nicely yesterday in the Pro‑Am, made a few birdies.¬† And just played nine holes just now.¬† Hitting the ball pretty well.¬† Last week was a bitter week.¬† I've been struggling a bit with my ball‑striking, and in Hong Kong was much better.¬† I finished 10th there, and really should have been a bit higher.
Things are starting to feel a bit fresher.  I was a bit tired for a few weeks there.  Obviously Ryder Cup takes it out of you, and obviously I was busy at home, doing quite a few bits and pieces for the foundation, so feel better now.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  Obviously a great year, winning out in this region an at Qatar and your win at Johnnie Walker, and you mentioned Ryder Cup.  It's been a pretty special year for you, hasn't it.
PAUL LAWRIE:¬† It's been lovely to be back in it again.¬† It's been a few years since I was Top‑50 in the World Rankings, and I've kind of felt pretty comfortable being back this there.¬† Had a lot of good weeks, been very consistent, I think nine Top‑10s so it's been a fantastic year.¬† Looking forward to kind of capping it off with a good week this week.

Q.  You mentioned last year here.  Can you trace a lot back of what's happened?  Was this a big turning point for you, and if so, why?
PAUL LAWRIE:  My confidence got a huge boost at this tournament last year, there's no question.  I think to win again in Málaga was a huge step after nine years.
But I think this week was the week that really sort of gave me the self‑belief; to finish second in this event with the field that we had last year and the field again we have this year, it can't do anything but good for your confidence.
Had a couple of weeks at home with the kids and then came out had two Top‑10s and a win first three weeks of the year.¬† I think a lot of my play this year and the last couple of years all goes down to this event.¬† Last year was the real kind of start again of where I felt that I belonged again in the Top‑50.
When you're out of there for so long, every golfer has spells where they kind of lose a bit of what they have got.  This week last year kind of gave me back a lot of that, so it was good.

Q.  This year you stepped down from the tournament players' committee for obvious reasons with great results, but do you think current Ryder Cup players should have more representation or more of a voice when it comes to picking the next Ryder Cup Captain?  And if you had a vote now, who would your vote be for?
PAUL LAWRIE:  No, I think they have done pretty well picking the captain for the last little while.  I don't think there's a problem with the way we pick the captain.  Again, I don't have a vote or a pick on who is the next captain.
So again, it would be unfair for me to name any one individual.  But whoever the committee pick, I'm sure they will do a fantastic job.

Q.  You mentioned obviously the event here last year, which then led on to you winning at Qatar.  Qatar obviously has a good feeling for you.  Are you looking forward to going back to there and defending your title?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Yeah, I always love playing in Qatar.  It kind of suits the way I play.  The greens are pretty firm and there tends to be a little bit of breeze that blows there.  I feel comfortable.  The golf course kind of suits my aye quite a lot.  I have no problem knocking the ball down and keeping the ball under the wind.
I've had some really good scores there and I've obviously had two wins, so I enjoy playing there.  But I think you get golf courses where you just feel comfortable as soon as you arrive.  And as soon as I played Qatar for the first time, the course, I just loved it.  I just thought it was just up my street.  It's amazing when you go back that you get good feelings about the place, so I look forward to going back and defending.

Q.  How are your two boys doing on the golf front?
PAUL LAWRIE:¬† Good.¬† Craig is 17 and plays off scratch, and Michael, he's 13 and he plays off 4.¬† So they are both coming on.¬† They are both very keen on being golfers as a profession.¬† They both want to be pros.¬† We'll wait and see what happens.¬† Craig's going to play full‑time next year on the amateur scene in¬† Scotland and we'll see how he gets on and then we'll make a decision on what he does at the end of next year.

Q.  How is your work with the foundation going?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Brilliant, thanks.  It's been good.  It's getting bigger and bigger.  Seems to grow every year.  We have got more events and more kids.
We have just started the Paul Lawrie Academy in our area where the coaches are going to select children and they are going to receive tips on rules, fitness, diet, long game, short game, course management, everything.
So it's going really well.  It's busy.  Obviously it's gotten pretty big over the years.  It's getting a little bit harder for me to obviously play a full schedule and do so much with the foundation.  I kind of backed off a little bit of the foundation this year because I was obviously so busy playing.  But I'm still involved and still go to as many events as I can, and it's been going really good.

Q.¬† Miguel √Āngel broke Des Smyth's long‑standing record last week; given what you've achieved, do you see yourself breaking that record down the road someday?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Well, yeah, you don't know, do you.  Miguel, he's a bit of a different character.  He's obviously done unbelievable well.  To be the oldest winner on Tour is a nice thing to have.  And he looks like he can go for a while yet.  He doesn't look as though he's finished, Miguel.  He looked comfortable last week.  He didn't look nervy.  He didn't look old, that's for sure.
So I've got a few years on him, so we'll wait and see.

Q.  Would it tempt you to go on the Rioja?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Well, I have been known.  (Laughter).

Q.  What's your take on the state of The European Tour, this trend for players to be taking up PGA TOUR membership, and do steps need to be taken to protect some of the National Open titles?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Well, that's a question that's not for me.  That's above my pay grade, as it were.
I joined the PGA TOUR in 2000 and gave it a try and it wasn't for me.  I wouldn't see myself ever doing that again.  I definitely see myself playing over there.  I mean, the World Golf events and the majors, delighted to play over there sort of six, seven, eight events a year.  I can see that happening for a wee while.
But to actually live over there, and my main schedule being over there, I don't think that will happen for me.  I tried that in 2000 and didn't like it.  The kids were quite young.  I had to spend too much time away from them which I didn't like.  I like getting home.
It's about balance.  It's about getting your schedule right for me.  I have no problem playing over there seven or eight times a year, but that's about as far as it will go.

Q.  Rory was in yesterday and he said that the course is playing a bit longer, because perhaps tournament is scheduled a week or so before from last year.  Does that effect how you expect to play the course, and is there anything that you can take out of it from last year that can help you go one step further?
PAUL LAWRIE:  The fairways are a little softer than they were last year which obviously makes it play longer.  I would have said the greens are pretty much the same, maybe a little firmer and there's a little bit more rough around the edge of the fairway.  It's a little thicker around places and makes it harder to judge and control the ball.
But I still think scoring will be pretty good this week.   The greens are so good, the greens are immaculate and any time you give us greens of that quality, scoring is normally pretty good.  But the course will play a little longer than it did last year, but I can't imagine that will affect the scoring a hell of a lot.
Obviously these guys are world class at what they do, so I would imagine somebody will shoot something similar to last year.
What I take from last year is I obviously came within two shots of winning last year, so I can play the golf course; I know how to get the ball around.  It's just a matter of how you play on the week.  I love the course and I love the way it sets up.  The greens are just beautiful.  So I would like to think I would hole my fair share this week.

Q.  You talked about how the Qatar course really played to your strengths.  How close does this course play to your strengths?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Well, again, I think if you are able to hit the ball both ways and hit it high and low, I don't think there's a course that you can't play anywhere in the world.
But there's just certain courses that sort of, as soon as you get there, you can see that you've got a chance to win this week the way it sets up.  It doesn't mean to say that a golf course that doesn't suit my eye, it doesn't mean I can't play it.  I probably don't get to any golf course and think that I can't play it.  But there's just some that I kind of feel I've got more of a chance than others.
Certainly when you get on a golf course and it's rolling quite fast and the greens are quite firm, and you have got to control your ball, I think I do that pretty well.
But this week is a little different to Qatar.  Doesn't mean to say that I don't feel that I can win.

Q.  You said earlier that your form last year has been unbelievable and you can trace it back to the tournament here.  What happens in your head when you have a great tournament like this that you can sustain form for the rest of the year?
PAUL LAWRIE:  It just gives you confidence.  When you go close to winning tournaments of this size, obviously it just gives you a boost.  You know that you can compete and that you can beat these guys on any given week.
Even though I won in Málaga at the start of 2011, I had a few months in the summer where I didn't play very well and I didn't putt very well, and was struggling a wee bit with confidence.  And all of the sudden, you turn up at this event and kind of have a chance to win on the back nine.  That's all you're trying to do at any tournament.  That's kind of the biggest thing from last year, you kind of turned up and you have a good shot at winning.

Q.  Having had the season that you've had this year, going into a new season, 2013 next year, does that make you readjust your expectations, your targets, your goals looking forward?
PAUL LAWRIE:  No, not really.  I think 2011, I was 18th in The Race to Dubai, and this year, whatever I'm going to be is ahead of that.  So it's a step in the right direction.
I see next year as a kind of similar progression hopefully.  My schedule is going to be a bit different than it was at the start of last year.  I wasn't guaranteed to play in the World Golf Championships until I had won at Qatar; whereas now, I know I'm in all the events next year.
So the schedule, you can plan it out.¬† I can look forward to it and it's exciting to be back in the Top‑50 and comfortably so at the minute, and I'm looking forward to kicking on again.
I've still got as much desire as anyone out here to practise and play and put the work in that's needed.  I don't see why I can't have an even better year next year than I've had this year.

Q.¬† Do you think these events, these sort of exhibition games between Woods and Rory and the Turkish Airlines, do you think they are harmful to The European Tour since they are not full‑field events?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Whether these events happen or not has got absolutely zippo to do with me.  Did Rory not play because he played in that event?  I wouldn't have thought so.  Rory does his schedule.  Tiger does his schedule.  I do mine.  I can't make them do what I want to do and they can't make me do anything different.  So it's up to them what they do and what they play.

Q.¬† But when you have a situation where you still have a recession in many parts of the world and you have that sort of prize money going to an unofficial event, if you like, would that prize money not be better off put into a full‑field tournament?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Well, that's nothing to do with me.  I can't do anything about that.  I can't make them put prize money into The European Tour that's going other places.  I'm not sure that's a question for me.

Q.  You could lead a strike.
PAUL LAWRIE:  I wish I was that powerful.  I'm not.  (Laughter).
SCOTT CROCKETT:  Thanks, Paul, as always, for your time.

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