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JOHNNIE WALKER CHAMPIONSHIP AT GLENEAGLES


August 21, 2013


Paul Lawrie


GLENEAGLES, SCOTLAND

MICHAEL GIBBONS:¬† Welcome back to the Johnnie Walker Championship.¬† Always a pleasure to have a defending champion at the top table.¬† Talk about what your victory did confidence‑wise and for the season.
PAUL LAWRIE:¬† Yeah, it definitely came at a nice time.¬† I was obviously confirmed as being in The Ryder Cup team before we teed off, which was a big bonus, because obviously I had not played in it for a long time.¬† You kind of add I wasn't striking it on my best‑‑ it's on your mind all the time, as you understand.¬† I wanted to play on it pretty badly.¬† So when that was taken away, it was almost a bit of a relief that I was in and I could play golf again.
And played lovely this week last year, tee‑to‑green was one of the best performances of my career, didn't putt very well here last year but still won by four.¬† Tells you how good I played.
Always nice to come back and defend a tournament, never mind a Scottish tournament, so looking forward to it.
MICHAEL GIBBONS:  Have you been out this week, seen the course yet?
PAUL LAWRIE:¬† No, I've been busy at home.¬† So I'm playing the Pro‑Am as the practise round, which is normal for me; I don't normally play twice; I'm 44 not 24.¬† Looking forward to seeing the course.¬† I don't know how many changes there are, but I hear it's in good condition, so should be good.
MICHAEL GIBBONS:  Quite hard to avoid The Ryder Cup flavour, coming back here, and being next year.
PAUL LAWRIE:  Yeah, he was just different class, he came in by helicopter and from the second he arrived to the second he left, he was just different class spoke to everyone, signed every autographs, we did a junior clinic, played nine holes on the course.  It was just one of the best days, he was just awesome.

Q.  Aside from The Ryder Cup, one of the highlights of your career so far, the fact that the qualifying starts next week in Wales does that give you a wee bit of extra incentive for the months ahead?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Yeah, I've been really busy at home with stuff that I had to do, so I'm a wee bit tired at the moment.  I'm taking next week off now, I'm not playing.  I kind much felt that I needed a week just to relax and start again in Switzerland.
I've been really busy, which‑‑¬† it's my, the foundation, I had a few things to do with that, corporate days, needed to do them and I did them on a week off last week so next week off and get going.
Keen to obviously get a few points up early like I did last time.  I definitely need to get off to a good start in The Ryder Cup year, it kind of helps build the confident to kick on and cement your place, is the idea.

Q.  What are your views on the change to the selection panel for The Ryder Cup captain, the three captains, Chief Executive and member of the Tournament Committee; do you think that's a good thing going forward?
PAUL LAWRIE:  I think whenever you have a lot of people picking something, it's going to get a lot of opinions and it makes it maybe a little bit harder.  But we've not exactly struggled to get the right guy in place and to win The Ryder Cup of late.  But I see what they are trying to do.  I think less people is always good.
I think having more past captains involved in it is a good thing, and he's the guy that knows what it takes to do the job.  If you want to go back a few captains instead of getting the most recent one, I think it's a good idea.  I'm not on the committee anymore so I wasn't involved in what they did or how they did it, but I think it's a good idea.

Q.¬† After last year, and what's happened now in the buildup‑‑
PAUL LAWRIE:  No, not really.  I think, what I saw, I haven't played for so long, and there's just so much for the captain to do is what I kind of saw.  And obviously José wasn't getting back until 9.00, 9.30 every night in the hotel, eating and going to bed, so there's so much for him to do.  I think anybody that criticises whatever the captains do that week are a wee bit out of order because it's just such a big job for him to do.
I don't think that influenced how they did it or how they picked him.  I think they just wanted less people involved and it makes it simpler.

Q.  You spoke about how badly you wanted to make that Ryder Cup Team again, now that you've scratched that itch, is the same desire to do it, and will that grow over the kind of qualifying period?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Yeah, well, I wanted to get in José's team, obviously to be in his team, because I've got a lot of respect for him and I've known him a long time and I knew how much The Ryder Cup meant to him.
But I also felt it would be easier to get into the Gleneagles team if I got on Jos√©'s team.¬† If you go from 13 years‑‑ if you go 15 years sense you've played in The Ryder Cup, I'm not sure if that's kind of doable for somebody.¬† So I thought I had to get in the Medinah team to give me a better chance of getting in the Gleneagles team which I've done.
So it would be unbelievable to get on the team again, but when it means that much to you, it hurts your performance, and I managed to get the balance right last time where I was desperate to get in but still playing was the most important thing.
It's a hard thing to get right.  I got it wrong a couple of times.  I was desperate to get on Sam Torrance's team and tried too hard and played too much and got it wrong.  But I got it right last time.  But I really want to be on the team here.  That would be cool.

Q.  Perhaps with thoughts of future captaincy yourself, do you think you'll have some involvement in Seve Trophy with Sam as captain?
PAUL LAWRIE:¬† Well, I'm hoping to be playing in it.¬† I'm not sure exactly of which players are ahead of me on the list that are going to play and not going to play.¬† But if a few of them choose not to play, I'm probably going to get in the team.¬† If I play ‑‑ I texted Sam, it was funny, I said, "Congratulations and it's a good pick and you'll be a great captain," and he texted me back, "I'm not getting any picks."
I just said, "Well done, I know you've not got a pick."¬† It's pretty funny how h kind of‑‑ he's fantastic, he'll do a great job.¬† It will be great to have him in Paul's backroom team and to have him around The Ryder Cup again would be fantastic, but I hope to be playing Seve Trophy is the plan.

Q.  Just going back to your desire to play here next year, how easy or hard is it to go and play a round of golf in any tournament trying to win that golf tournament without thinking beyond it?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Not hard at all until it gets the final find of few weeks, few months.  If you're miles in and you're guaranteed to get in, it's not difficult at all.  But if you're kind of on the edge of getting in or you're slipping down a couple spots like I did last year, then you just can't think of anything else to be honest.
It's just such a big event, and you guys rightly cover it hugely.¬† And I wanted to play desperately, and you just kind of get yourself in a wee bit of‑‑ instead of going out there and playing the tournament you're at and the shot you're over, your imagination wanders to The Ryder Cup, but you have to learn from that and not think about Ryder Cup.
But it's such a big tournament, and it means so much to the tour, it's quite hard to think of anything else at times but you've got to deal with that.

Q.  Sorry for pointing it out, but you slid down the rankings a wee bit the last few months.  Where would you say your game is compared to last year, and is it far away from getting back to where it maybe was 12 months ago?
PAUL LAWRIE:¬† Well, I've constantly been moaning about my putting for quite a while now, but to be honest I've not played as well tee‑to‑green as I did last year.¬† I've not driven the ball, you know, nearly as well as I did last year, and I think that that was the biggest turnaround in my fortunes.
I became a really good driver of the ball, and I cracked my driver at the Match Play off the first tee against Scott Piercy, and spent months looking for one to be fair.  And I think I've now finally got one and driving the ball a lot better.  I swapped drivers a lot this year because I couldn't find one that I liked and that didn't help.

Q.  How many have you gone through?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Quite a few.  I don't know the number, but I've a different one in there nearly every couple weeks to be honest.  But I think I've found one I've liked and now can settle down and play good golf from here on in.  Next week off, and then schedule is really busy until the end of the year.

Q.  You’ve always said it is important to be in the top 50 and to play in the Majors and World Golf Championships during the qualification process?
PAUL LAWRIE:¬† I wasn¬ít in the Top‑50 until Qatar, so I had quite a few months outside the Top‑50.¬† But in that time I obviously had a second place in Race to Dubai which is as good as playing in four or five World Golf Championships events to be honest.
So as long as you're in the Top‑50 for the bulk of the tournaments from the start of next year, then you've got every chance.¬† If you're not in the Top‑50 during the whole thing, I would say maybe it's impossible to get in.¬† It's so much to play in the majors and world golf events.
So not only do you have to be in them, you have to perform in them and pull out some decent performances in those big tournaments.  I think I'm 60th now, so I kind of need to get going again.  It's been a frustrating spell, but I kind of feel pretty close to kicking on again.

Q.  Remarkable achievement to get on the team last time after such a long time.  Would getting on the team next year represent an even greater achievement?
PAUL LAWRIE:  No, I don't think so, because of where I am, where I was when the qualifying started for Medinah.  I'm in a far healthier position this time going into the qualifying start of The Ryder Cup, where as the last time, I don't know exactly what number I was in the World Rankings, but I was kind of we will down there.
So I think not played in it for 13 years, and get yourself going and get yourself back in that team from where I was will always be one of the biggest achievements of my career.¬† Whereas now, even if the qualifying starts and I'm outside the Top‑50, you're still roundabout 50.¬† I must have been about 200 when it started the last time.¬† That will be a bigger achievement than if I get in this team, personally.

Q.  Manufacturers claim that they can make an identical club nowadays, and it's much easier to do but they can't really, can they.  Is it mental or what is it that no two clubs are 100 per cent the same?
PAUL LAWRIE:¬† I don't know.¬† Obviously when I cracked my driver‑‑ I mean, I've got spare ones at home.¬† I've got ones that kind of obviously the same loft and same weight and same feel and same this and same that.
But I don't know, it's just I had one that I really liked and I had one that I kind of felt was one I could hit.¬† It's not the club that hits it off‑line, you know, it's my swing.¬† It's kind of what you do with it.
But you just get one now and again that just feels right and just feels comfortable.  And when it cracked, I struggled a wee bit.  I suppose it's impossible to get one that feels exactly the same, I imagine, no matter how much technology you put into it.  The slightest little thing with us is quite a big deal, but it's part and parcel of what we do.  You have to change your clubs now and again.

Q.  McGinley talked yesterday about being a horses for courses man; on the back of last year's win, a good performance from you this week would be a big marker possibly for a year's time?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Yeah, it's a course I enjoy and a course I like.  I've had some success here and winning here last year, and I've had a couple other good finishes.  I spoke to Paul in China, he sat down with me for about an hour, which I'm sure he did with all the players in Medinah, and we chatted about bits and pieces.
He mentioned that he felt we might have waterproofs on a little bit this time next year, and there's no one that prefers a jacket more than me.  I kind of like playing golf in my jacket, and he made that point.  That's obviously his job to fill me with confidence and make me feel good about himself, and he wants me on his team that's his job and doing his management bit.  I got the feeling that he wanted me as part of the team and he did a good job.
He's good at that, he's a great lad and he's been around The Ryder Cup so many times.  He knows what to do.  His man management skills are excellent, so I'd love to be part of his team.

Q.  Are you surprised more of the top players are not here?  I know The Barclays is on, but given it's the final Johnnie Walker before The Ryder Cup?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Not really, because I think a lot of our boys, not so much based over there, but they have got houses over there and live over there and the FedEx is a massive part of what they do.  I think if you're in the FedEx tournaments, I think you're going to play in them if it's part of your U.S. schedule.
Scheduling for these guys is really difficult.  I think they get a hard rap sometimes.  It would be nice if a few of them played but again, I understand why they are not here, totally.  Scheduling is quite tough for the boys that play both tours.

Q.  Having experienced the American galleries at The Ryder Cup, what do you think it will be like here and what energy will it bring having a Scot, whether you or another Scot, involved here?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Well, obviously for people, local people who are going to come along, it be would nice to have a Scottish person on the team to cheer on.
I don't think it will affect the score or the outcome of the match if there's not a Scot on the team but obviously being Scottish, we want a Scot on the team.  The crowds will be fantastic here.
The crowds are always fantastic when we play golf in the U.K., there's not a question about that.  That's why so many of these guys enjoy coming over and playing and so many of them feel comfortable.  There will be no shouting and screaming at the American boys and they will be well behaved like they always are, because they know their golf and love their golf.
MICHAEL GIBBONS:  No mashes potatoes.
PAUL LAWRIE:  No mashed potatoes, man.

Q.  There will be no Johnnie Walker next year because of The Ryder Cup, but when it comes back in 2015, do you think it would be a good idea to change the date in the schedule to improve the standard, the overall standard of the field?
PAUL LAWRIE:  Well, I don't know.  I don't know if that's even possible.  Obviously the dates and the scheduling by the Tour is done kind of quite well.  Obviously tournaments have got certain dates that they have had for a long time.  I think moving tournaments is quite difficult, I assume, because there are so many tournaments.
I don't know.  I can't answer that question.  Personally, doesn't bother me when it's played.  I always play tournaments in Scotland.  I think the field we have this week is pretty good to be fair.
MICHAEL GIBBONS:  Thank you, Paul, good luck this week.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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