Peter Lawrie is hanging on to his sanity by his fingernails after a nightmare run that's cost him his tour card and more than few grey hairs. But after making just his ninth cut from his last 43 starts thanks to a second round 68 in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, his first thought was to acknowledge the support he's had from his friends during what's been 18 months of golfing hell.
“You know who your friends are when the ‘you know what’ hits the fan!” Lawrie said after a round that left him tied for 10th at Doha Golf Club, just three shots off the lead, and all but guaranteed him a a cheque for the first time in four months
It's crucial that the 40 year old Dubliner takes advantage of the third of what will be five successive sponsor's invitations to start the 2015 season.
But having failed to win any prize money on tour since last September's Omega European Masters in Crans, the pressure is well and truly on him in the real world sense of the word.
"Deep down I am delighted with myself," said Lawrie, whose his most recent Top-10 finish came in the 2013 Irish Open at Carton House. "It’s been a long road and the last cheque I made was last September in Switzerland.
“And I would like this mentioned as there have been people, and they know exactly who they are, who have stepped forward to help and it’s taken a lot of pressure off me and I would just like to thank them.
In fact, Lawrie has made just €70,000 since he was 10th at Carton House in that Irish Open almost 19 months ago. And while that might sound like decent money to the average working person, it's not enough for a tour player to cover his costs, never mind pay a mortgage.
Until Thursday, he'd missed nine cuts in a row and 34 of the last 42 in a mind-boggling run that had its genesis in equipment and swing changes made to gain more distance off the tee.
And with a wife and four young children to support, it's been a tough road for the popular 2008 Spanish Open champion.
He missed out on regaining his card by a single stroke at last year's Q-School in Girona and while he will get more sponsor's invitations as a tournament winner and former Rookie of the Year, he knows it's the recent support from his true friends that has made all the difference.
"I’m just delighted as a 68 is a good score especially under the circumstances as I am here on invitation so the goal was just to play as well as I can when I was presented with an opportunity, and for two rounds I’ve done just that,” he said after a six-birdie round left him three strokes behind co-leaders Branden Grace, Bernd Wiesberger and George Coetzee.
“So I have been lucky to get an invitation so thank you very much to the golf club and the sponsors. Again, I chipped and putted well and that has been the key for these two days.”
Starting on the par-five 10th, Lawrie chipped seven feet behind the flag and holed the putt to get to three under par for the tournament, having opened with a 70.
He dropped a shot at the 15th but then holed a five-footer for birdie at the par-five 18th to turn in 35 before two-putting the par-five first to move well clear of the cut mark.
He hit his best shot of the day at the fourth, firing a 163-yard eight iron to just two feet to go three under for the day and while he dropped a shot at the fifth hole, birdies at the seventh and ninth left him with a smile on his face.
“That birdie there on my 18th was easily the most enjoyable and just to finish the day off well is very satisfying,” he said after hitting a 114-yard gap wedge to 15 feet pin-high before holing the putt. “Overall, I didn’t do anything sparkling well but then I didn’t do anything badly either."
While most players might allow themselves the luxury of looking to the future with optimism, Lawrie knows he can't afford to get ahead of himself.
“Now that I am here for the weekend I am not about to get carried away, as that's never been me," he said. "All I can still do is look at each round and each week as it comes.
“I just can’t look forward at all as I just don’t have the opportunity given I know I am only playing the next two weeks, in Dubai and out in Malaysia so it will be a case of trying to make as much hay as I possibly can while the sun continues to shine."
Bar his family, nobody knows better than Damien McGrane how Lawrie has suffered. And the Kells man is also well in contention, tied for 32nd on four under par after a level par 72.
Michael Hoey is also tied 32nd after a 69 that saw him sandwich five birdies in a magical seven-hole stretch in mid-round between bogeys at his sixth and 15th holes.
Scores after round two
136 B An (Kor) 67 69, M Warren (Sco) 71 65, E Grillo (Arg) 67 69,
137 A Cañizares (Esp) 67 70, D Fichardt (RSA) 67 70, R Green (Aus) 70 67,
138 O Fisher (Eng) 65 73, S Garcia (Esp) 69 69, J Morrison (Eng) 68 70, T Fleetwood (Eng) 73 65, A Noren (Swe) 67 71, G Bourdy (Fra) 70 68, P Lawrie (Irl) 70 68, S Kapur (Ind) 70 68, K Broberg (Swe) 67 71, R Paratore (Ita) 69 69, M Baldwin (Eng) 70 68,
139 M Kieffer (Ger) 71 68, E Els (RSA) 67 72, R Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 66 73, J Carlsson (Swe) 74 65, G Havret (Fra) 70 69, A Sullivan (Eng) 71 68, E De La Riva (Esp) 70 69, R Gonzalez (Arg) 69 70, M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 68 71, F Aguilar (Chi) 71 68, K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 68 71,
140 P Lawrie (Sco) 67 73, M Foster (Eng) 67 73, M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 70 70, A Quiros (Esp) 70 70, J Singh (Ind) 70 70, M Hoey (Nir) 71 69, A Hansen (Den) 71 69, D McGrane (Irl) 68 72, E Pepperell (Eng) 69 71, R Fisher (Eng) 70 70, M Carlsson (Swe) 71 69, B Hebert (Fra) 72 68,
141 J Rose (Eng) 68 73, S Benson (Eng) 70 71, E Molinari (Ita) 71 70, B Rumford (Aus) 69 72, M Lampert (Ger) 67 74, H Stenson (Swe) 70 71, S Jamieson (Sco) 68 73, D Van Der Walt (RSA) 72 69, T Pieters (Bel) 73 68,
142 A Johnston (Eng) 69 73, T Aiken (RSA) 69 73, P Larrazábal (Esp) 71 71, J Barnes (Eng) 72 70, P Waring (Eng) 70 72, J Quesne (Fra) 70 72, J Campillo (Esp) 72 70, T Jaidee (Tha) 69 73, P Uihlein (USA) 69 73,
143 R Karlsson (Swe) 70 73, J Roos (RSA) 75 68, R Finch (Eng) 71 72, W Ormsby (Aus) 74 69, E Espana (Fra) 70 73, M Korhonen (Fin) 73 70, S Gallacher (Sco) 68 75, T Lewis (Eng) 72 71, A Otaegui (Esp) 73 70, M Tullo (Chi) 69 74, M Nixon (Eng) 72 71, N Colsaerts (Bel) 70 73, S Kjeldsen (Den) 73 70,
144 J Garcia Pinto (Esp) 73 71, M Crespi (Ita) 76 68, S Khan (Eng) 71 73, O Wilson (Eng) 71 73, Y Yang (Kor) 73 71, D Foos (Ger) 71 73, J Olazábal (Esp) 73 71,
145 A Levy (Fra) 71 74, M Ford (Eng) 70 75, R Ramsay (Sco) 73 72, M Fraser (Aus) 76 69,
146 B Dredge (Wal) 74 72, D Lipsky (USA) 75 71, S Dyson (Eng) 74 72, J Kruger (RSA) 71 75, S Webster (Eng) 76 70, A Wall (Eng) 75 71, T Olesen (Den) 69 77,
147 J Palmer (Eng) 76 71, C Doak (Sco) 71 76, S Hend (Aus) 74 73, T Tree (Eng) 76 71, M Ilonen (Fin) 72 75, C Schwartzel (RSA) 69 78, F Zanotti (Par) 71 76, D Howell (Eng) 73 74, R Rock (Eng) 72 75,
148 C Lee (Sco) 75 73, G Stal (Fra) 72 76, R Bland (Eng) 74 74, J Parry (Eng) 74 74, D Drysdale (Sco) 70 78, L Bjerregaard (Den) 75 73, M Siem (Ger) 74 74, A Murdaca (am) (Aus) 76 72,
149 S Hutsby (Eng) 73 76, O Farr (Wal) 76 73, M Madsen (Den) 76 73, J Lando Casanova (Fra) 72 77,
150 T Hatton (Eng) 75 75, G Mulroy (RSA) 72 78, N Fasth (Swe) 74 76, R Jacquelin (Fra) 73 77,
151 M Manassero (Ita) 76 75, J Hrinda (am) (Svk) 77 74,
152 R Wattel (Fra) 75 77,
153 G Storm (Eng) 76 77,
155 D Brooks (Eng) 74 81,
160 J Jeong (Kor) 78 82,
162 A Al Kaabi (am) (Qat) 79 83,
168 A Al-Shahrani (am) (Qat) 85 83,
** S Hansen (Den) 75 WD,