Lawrie ends nine-year wait

 

Golf:Paul Lawrie achieved his first European Tour win for nine years today — the first leg of what he hoped would be a notable double for Scottish golf. The 42-year-old former Open champion took the Andalucian Open in Malaga by one from Swede Johan Edfors just as compatriot Martin Laird prepared to tee off again with a two-stroke lead in America.

With six runners-up finishes since his last victory Lawrie must have feared it was going to be another near miss when, from one ahead overnight, he bogeyed the first two holes and England’s Mark Foster birdied them. But, in a repeat of what happened at last year’s Spanish Open, Foster could not hold onto a three-shot lead.

Lawrie, despite dropping another stroke at the fifth, turned things round by starting the back nine with four birdies in five holes.

And the Aberdeen golfer, whose world ranking has dropped from 29th in 2000 to 272nd, could even afford a closing bogey to win with a level par 70 and 12-under total of 268.

“It’s been a long time — 2002 seems a hell of a time ago,” he said. “I’ve had a few second places in there, but all of a sudden we’re there again. It was going pear-shaped a little bit, but you’ve just got to keep going — that’s all you can do.

“I played lovely and the putter behaved better. I got on a nice run at the right time.”

Edfors was left to rue a three-putt bogey on the 15th after he had drawn level three times, but with a 68 he pushed Chilean Felipe Aguilar into third spot.

Foster, who like Lawrie was chasing his first victory in more than 200 Tour starts going back in his case to 2003, slipped back into a tie for fourth.

Meanwhile, Kenneth Ferrie, who equalled the Tour record with his 60 in the third round, crashed back to earth with a bump as a 75 sent him tumbling down to

joint 11th.

It was not a finish Spaniard Jose Manuel Lara will want to think about for too long either. Tied for third with a hole to go and still in with a chance if Lawrie made a mess of the difficult 18th, he went out of bounds with his approach and ran up a triple-bogey seven.

A 14-footer at the 10th was the turning point for Lawrie. He followed it with a 25-foot putt and chipped close on both the 12th and 14th, the two par fives on the Parador course.

To his immense relief it did not matter that he missed from under three feet in between those last two birdies or that he failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker at the last.

His sixth Tour victory came with a cheque for €164,000 and will move him up more than 100 places in the world.

Laird, meanwhile, had a chance to move just outside the game’s top 20.

Ireland's Paul McGinley finished level par after closing his tournament with a 75.