Lawrie earns Valderrama ticket

PETER LAWRIE, the 30 year-old Dubliner, yesterday achieved one of his chief ambitions for 2003 – to qualify for the season ending Volvo Masters.

By finishing in a tie for 12th and winning €66,948 to bring his season's earnings to a very healthy €402,866, Lawrie made sure of being in Valderrama next month. He is now 50th on the money list and closed the tournament yesterday with a 68 over the Old Course at St Andrews for a 14 under-par total of 274.

"I played 36 holes over the Old Course without finding a single bunker and dropped only one shot," said Lawrie with understandable satisfaction. "My only bogey today came at the 17th and that was because I was keeping well away from the Road bunker. I could have had a really great back nine for I had three birdies in a row from the 11th, where I sank a 20-footer for a two; at the 12th where I drove it on the green and the 13th where I holed from 18 feet. I had a chance from eight feet at the next, took my punishment at the 17th and then missed from four feet for birdie at the 18th. That cost me a top ten finish."

Padraig Harrington jets out to the United States this morning in preparation for the WGC American Express Championship beginning in Atlanta on Thursday with no sign of the spark he so badly needs to reignite what is turning into a disappointingly moderate season for the world number nine. A 71 for nine under 279 left the defending champion back in a share of 35th place for which he picked up a cheque for €27, 921 which means his best finish since winning the Deutsche Bank TPC of Europe in May was 10th in the US Open in June. Since then he has been placed 61st, 22nd, missed cut, 29th, 39th, 13th, missed cut and now 35th.

"I'm just not making things happen," he lamented. "I suppose I shouldn't be too hard on myself having finished nine under par but at the end of the day I'm not making it easy for myself. I haven't been good mentally and I think that's where the problem lies, not with my swing which I feel is as good as it has ever been plus the fact that when you come to a golf course like this, it's the shorter clubs are the most important, how close you hit your wedges."

Having held out hope of getting into contention after Friday when he was a manageable six off the lead, Harrington was burned off by the pace when discovering that a 67 at Kingsbarns on Saturday hardly improved matters at all. At least he and his amateur partner JP McManus survived into the final day thanks to Harrington's 18th hole birdie but in truth they were always too far back to contend for the main prizes.

The weekend was a bitter disappointment for Gary Murphy who was right up there with the leaders after two rounds but crashed to a disastrous 76 on Saturday that pushed him back to four under and a shot outside the cut mark.

Murphy bogeyed four of the first eight holes at Kingsbarns and then visited the hazard guarding the front of the green at the 9th., his 18th., to run up a seven. He battled back gamely over his closing nine and would still have made it had he not three putted the final green.

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