Aberdeen’s football defeat to Kairat Almaty was the only blot on an otherwise perfect day for Paul Lawrie as the tournament which bears his name enjoyed a successful European Tour debut yesterday.
A comprehensive 5&4 victory over Romain Wattel in the first round of the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Matchplay meant the former British Open champion was finished in time to watch his beloved Dons' Europa League tie in Kazakhstan.
Lawrie could reflect on an excellent day at Murcar Links which saw fellow Scots Richie Ramsay, Chris Doak, David Drysdale and Marc Warren also advance to the last 32.
“The last couple of days it’s been mega busy, but I knew coming in that was all part of the deal. If your name is on anything you want it to be right,” said Lawrie, who saw 1,500 spectators take advantage of free entry for children and adult tickets costing £15.
“I don’t think I will ever complain about a small thing again when you see all the work that goes into staging an event.
“I’m just a normal player now, just one of the 32 that’s left. You are under a certain amount of pressure as tournament host . . .”
Lawrie will face Doak in today's second round after the 37-year-old recovered from four down after five holes against Anthony Wall.
“I feel as if I stole it off him actually,” Doak said. “I holed a couple of long putts and had a couple of chip-ins and one was a beauty. I missed the green way left on 12, lobbed it over the bunker and it went in. If the TV cameras had been there it would have been shot of the year. That was a dagger in the heart I think.
“I didn’t feel I hit the ball that well but that’s match play. You can shoot five over and win and that’s probably what I shot!”
Ramsay, who set the course record of 62 here a month before winning the US Amateur in 2006, fought back from three down after seven holes to beat India’s Shiv Kapur, taking the lead for the first time with a birdie on the 17th and sealing victory with another on the last.
“The front nine was below my standards but I’d certainly give myself an A to A+ for the last two holes,” Ramsay said. ”It was nice to do that under pressure .”
Drysdale was three down after six before eventually beating Thomas Pieters on the 19th, while Warren was seven under par but only edged past England's Richard Bland on the 18th.
The in-form Matt Fitzpatrick, who was second in the Omega European Masters on Sunday, thrashed Bradley Dredge 6&4, while former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari defeated Sweden's Magnus Carlsson 5&4.
But two-time Major winner
, who received an invite to play in the event, crashed out after losing by two holes to
The strangest match of the day saw Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard lose 7&6 despite winning the first hole and making two birdies to his opponent's one, Spain's Alejandro Canizares carding 11 pars and a birdie on the 12th.
Ireland’s sole contender Michael Hoey defeated Maximilian Kieffer (Germany 2&1.