Peter Lawrie often sought the counsel of Des Smyth when he was battling to establish himself as a tour player. Now, eight years after winning the European Tour’s Rookie of the Year award, the Dubliner needs to start winning regualry if he is to follow in the Laytown legend’s footsteps and join the list of all-time great Irish players.
Smyth won eight times on tour in a storied career that saw him become Europe’s oldest winner. He also won a Dunhill Cup, earned two Ryder Cup caps and a Ryder Cup vice-captaincy and banked millions in the senior ranks with seven wins on both sides of the pond, so far. Oh, and let’s not forget his six Irish PGA titles.
Lawrie has just one tour win to his credit which leaves him light years behind Smyth but the 37-year old Dubliner has all the tools to add to that haul over the next few years. Not only has he got a very effective swing and a great short game, he’s also got the same work ethic and professionalism that marked out Smyth as a model professional.
Lawrie’s one under par 70 in the opening round of the Andalucia Masters bodes well for him on a track that rewards patient, precision players who can putt. And while he’s five shots behind leader Richie Ramsay of Scotland, a former winner of the Irish Amateur Open on the wonderful O’Meara Course at Carton House, he’s got the game and the experience to finally follow up on his maiden win in the 2008 Spanish Open.
The other Irish have work to do, headed by Shane Lowry (72) and defending champion Graeme McDowell (73). Gareth Maybin (75) and Damien McGrane (79) are under pressure to keep their cards while Paul Cutler (76) and Paul McGinley (79) are also struggling.
Ranked 55th in the Race to Dubai, Lawrie is looking good for the season-ending top 60 who will split a €5.4m Bonus Pool on top of a €4.5m purse in December’s the Dubai World Championship.
Winning is nice but let’s not feel too sorry for Lawrie, who is the 82nd highest career money winner in the history of the European Tour with tournament winnings of €4,145,229.
Smyth is not in the top 100, though he has won close to $5m since he joined the senior ranks thanks to his golden years on the Champions Tour.
If you were ever wondering why so many young Irish players put themselves through the mill to try and make it to the tour, take a look at the career earnings of our top players in Europe alone.
- 1 Ernie Els €26,100,907
- 2 Lee Westwood €25,848,392
- 3 Colin Montgomerie €24,322,523
- 4 Padraig Harrington €22,401,969
- 6 Darren Clarke €19,468,764
- 20 Graeme McDowell €11,453,985
- 22 Paul McGinley €10,700,086
- 26 Rory McIlroy €8,948,232
- 56 Mark McNulty €5,366,794
- 82 Peter Lawrie €4,145,229
- 89 Damien McGrane €3,806,053