Slow burner Lawrie plotting US Open assault

Peter Lawrie is looking forward to his first appearance in s US major at next week’s US Open in San Francisco. Photo Eoin Clarke/www.golffile.ieSelf-confessed plodder Peter Lawrie reckons he’s got the patience to make an impact on his US Open debut at a punishing Olympic Club.

And if you think he’s joking, consider this — he’s just spent his week off moving house with four kids under seven.

The US Open is the toughest of all the majors with vicious rough, lightning fast greens and cruel pin positions designed to drive the best to distraction.

Seve Ballesteros never won it, slamming the event as “a sad tournament” with “no excitement, no enjoyment.”

It’s changed a bit in recent years but patience is still the key and Lawrie knows all about waiting in this game.

The 38-year old Dubliner is the original slow-burner having take five years to win his tour card and another five to win his first tournament.

And as he prepares to make his first appearance in a US major seven years after getting overawed on his grand slam debut in the 2005 Open, the 250/1 shot is ready to spring a surprise.

Brimming with confidence and playing the best golf of his career after back to back top 10 finishes in Wentworth and Wales, Lawrie said: “The way I have played over the last couple of weeks I am certainly looking forward to it.

“The US Open suits a grinder and I am a good grinder. I know how to grind out a score. That’s been my forte really.

“I hit it straight and my short game is good, so that kind of golf course suits me. People are saying how hard the course is going to play but you never know until you get there.

“I hit the ball straight and it is a tough golf course and normally I do well over tough courses. I’m going out with an open mind.

“Am I patient? My wife might not agree but I think I am.

“I have always considered myself a late developer. A slow burner, slow and steady.

“I’ve been on tour 10 years and a pro for 14. I’m ready to try and go out and play well in a US Open.”

While he hasn’t got the razzle dazzle of defending champion Rory McIlroy, the experience of triple major winner Padraig Harrington or the swagger of 2010 champ Graeme McDowell, the former Spanish Open winner is arguably playing more consistently than all three.

Caddie Brian Martin will play a crucial role in Peter Lawrie’s US Open challenge. Photo Eoin Clarke/www.golffile.ieNo wonder he can’t wait to test himself in the major that’s traditionally as much fun as four days in a dentist’s chair.

Having qualified at Walton Heath after a five-man play-off for four spots, he’s made it into the US Open the hard way.

He’s in for a tough ride but he’s certainly not going out to San Francisco with coach Brendan McDaid just to make up the numbers.

Assessing his strategy, he said: “I think it would be wrong to go out and only try and make the cut.

“It would be wrong only to go out and say, ‘Ah, let’s enjoy this.’ And it would be very foolish of me and say, right, I am going to win this.

“I think the proper approach might be to go out bringing a golf game, having confidence in myself and trying to get myself in a position on a Saturday and more importantly, on a Sunday where you can actually contend. That would be the better way to approach the week.”

Colin Montgomerie never won a US Open but he knew it was the major that best suited his straight hitting game.

Three times a runner up, the Scot said: “The US Open is my favourite week of the year.

“To a lot of people, it is the worst week of the year. To me, you should be punished if you miss the fairway. You should be punished if you miss the green.”

Lawrie is a similar kind of player and will be the straightest European hitter in action next week.

But what’s more important is that he showed with his fourth place finish behind world No 1 Luke Donald in the BMW PGA at Wentworth that he’s got the game to handle a major-style set up.

Looking back on the PGA, he said: “It is just a difficult, difficult golf course, it doesn’t let up. You can’t day dream at all. You have to be mentally very strong and play for positions. I’m sure Olympic will be similar.

“The year was a pretty poor one for me until the Spanish Open but I turned the corner there and since then I have played lovely.

“I probably played the best golf I have every played in my life at Wentworth. I didn’t miss a shot for the 72 holes.”

The Dubliner said at the start of the year that he was determined to get into more majors, having played in just one to date.

He said: “My record was horrendous. But hopefully this is the first of more majors for me this season.

“I’ve always sat down and watched them on TV and now it’s my turn to play in one again and I’m excited about it.

“I’ve looked into the golf course and talked to a few people who have played it and they have all said you have got to hit it very straight and it’s got very small greens.

“People might be making it sound tougher than it could be. You just don’t know until you get there.”

The 2003 Rookie of the Year wants to show how much he’s matured since his missing the cut in his major debut in the Open.

He said: “I got a bit caught up in the hype of things when I played my first major at St Andrews in 2005. But I think I am a different player now.

“I have a head on my shoulders and I accept the stuff that’s thrown at you. I just get on with it.”

Sounds like the perfect mindset for a man facing the toughest golfing test on the planet.