Thursday, June 10

Paul Lawrie and the Eight-Putt Green

“I felt physically sick and it is without doubt the most bizarre thing I’ve ever done.”
−Paul Lawrie

PAUL LAWRIE IS A EUROPEAN TOUR professional and the 1999 British Open champion, the beneficiary of the collapse of Jean Van de Velde who Lawrie beat, along with Justin Leonard, in a four-hole playoff. Last week at the Wales Open Lawrie had a misadventure on the second green that he won’t soon forget. Playing the back nine first, the Scottish pro had just put the finishing touches on a 30 and was two shots off the lead. I’ll let Paul tell you what happened next.

“I went to the turn today in 30 (-5),” he wrote at his blog. “I played awesome and could have birdied every hole. At the par-5 second hole (my tenth) I made an 11. I was on the green in three and then eight putted.”

Timeout here. I can’t remember a tour pro taking eight putts. Paul Goydos recently took five putts on the par-4 seventh hole at The Players Championship. I saw it on tape and remember feeling slightly embarrassed for Goydos. Watching it, I could see how it happened. It was one of those devious hole locations. Still, it was nothing compared to Lawrie. Eight putts!

Here’s how Lawrie described it:

“The pin was right next to a large slope and I misjudged my first putt then spent the next five minutes going up and down the slope. I felt physically sick and it is without doubt the most bizarre thing I’ve ever done. Yet again this week I’ve played really good in spells and got nothing.”

It’s definitely a mind bender. Shoot a 30, threaten the lead and then eight-putt for an 11 and miss the stupid cut. I’ve never heard that one before. Instead, it reminds me of too many sad tales at the 19th hole. “I was playing out of my mind, a career round. Right, Fred (elbowing Fred)? Tell him! Then I eight-putted ….”

I just realized something. Both players who have recently suffered a sudden putting disaster (or SPD, as I’ll call it, because everything has an acronym these days) are named “Paul.” Uh-oh. Could it be some sort of bizarre epidemic striking the “Pauls” of the pro golf world?

Maybe someone should warn Paul Casey, Paul Stankowski and Paul Azinger before they’re afflicted with an SPD.

−The Armchair Golfer


michael Shingleton said...

The first putt coming back down the hill sent Lawrie's mind to the past, "uh, oh, there goes my no bogey string." and the future, "I have to hit this close or..." This moment is all we ever have. We can learn from the past, (in this case, Lawrie needed to whack it up the slope) but the past is over. The future doesn't exist, because when we get there, it's right now.
Turn "8" sideways and it is the symbol of infinity. Lawrie experienced infinity standing over his last putt.

Freddy said...

The biggest problem I have is being able to leave my bad shots in the past. They plague me too much that I compound it by making another bad one. You need incredible mental strength to be a good golfer. Not because you don't make mistakes but you are able to get over them.

The Armchair Golfer said...

So true, Freddy. A short memory is a golfer's ally. But it's so difficult to forget the bad shots.

Prof said...

I know exactly how he must feel, just not on as big of a scale. Definitely a nightmarishly surreal moment for a professional. Like you guys said, he can't let it play into him, cause he is a good player, just had a oddly bad putting experience.

Prof said...

Lawrie is very talented and even good golfers have their nightmarishly surreal moments. Makes me feel better about my bad days on the course. I know how he must feel, just not on as big of a scale as he was on. Like you all said, he can't let it mess with him.

Jay Christian said...

I can't lie, I've been in that same boat a few times. When I was a kid, putting was about as fun as dental work to me, but no matter how many times I begged, my dad made focus and get better.

This story really made be laugh, and now I think I want to call my dad.

Cynthia Cronk said...

Great piece, poor Paul. Love Michael Shingleton's comment about 8 being inifinity turned around and how Lawrie must have felt. It can happen to any of us. There are humbling greens out there - it was his Tin Cup moment and he will never forget it and likely won't let it happen again.