It's been quite a year for Paul Lawrie.
This week in Dubai, the 1999 Open champion returns to the place where his magical 12 months started in the DP World Tour Championship over the Earth course at the Jumeirah Golf Estates. Lawrie, who had captured his first European Tour title in almost a decade at the Andalucia Open in March of 2011, finished that particular year with a flourish by taking the runners-up spot in the season-ending Dubai showpiece.
The 43-year-old, who was beaten to the title on the 72nd hole when Spain's Alvaro Quiros holed a monstrous eagle putt, used that desert storm as a springboard towards greater things in 2012 and victories in the Qatar Masters and the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles propelled him all the way to the European Ryder Cup team and a memorable triumph at Medinah.
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"This year has been mainly down to how I played here [in Dubai] last year," said Lawrie, who currently sits in 10th place on the European order of merit and could yet improve on his career high of sixth with a strong showing this week. "Winning in Malaga was a huge step after nine years. But I think that week was the week that really gave me the self-belief.
"To finish second in this event with the field that we had last year can only be good for your confidence. I was gutted at not winning. If you're delighted with second then you're in the wrong game. You have to go out and win. But I came close and when things like that happen, you kick on."
He most certainly did, and the continuation of his rousing renaissance, which would be rewarded with a return to the Ryder Cup arena for the first time since his debut in 1999, was one of the great, uplifting tales of the golfing year.
Now tucked well inside the elite of the top 50 in the world rankings at No 27, it is very much a case of onwards and upwards for the Scot. "It's been a few years since I was top-50 in the world rankings, and I've felt pretty comfortable being back there," added Lawrie, who tees-off in the company of his Ryder Cup team-mate and the former US Open champion Graeme McDowell in today's first round. "Last year, I felt that I belonged again in the top 50.
"The difference between 50 and 51 in the world rankings is massive. You need to be in that top 50 to get in all the big events. I've been there since I won in Qatar and I plan to stay there. I have more desire now than ever and I'm enjoying it too much to give it up. I see next year as a similar progression, hopefully."
Lawrie is one of six Scots competing in the elite, 60-man field this week and only England and South Africa have a stronger representation of players in the line-up. Richie Ramsay, Lawrie's fellow Aberdonian and the winner of the Omega European Masters in September, is the next-best home hopeful on the European pecking order at No.27 while the Tartan Army is bolstered by David Drysdale, Marc Warren, Scott Jamieson and Stephen Gallacher, who was fourth in last weekend's Hong Kong Open and was the runner-up in the Dubai Desert Classic at the start of the year.
Jamieson squeezed into the field at No.59 in the rankings and, while that mirrored the position he qualified in during his rookie season on the tour last season, the Cathkin Braes man believes his game has developed and moved forward in that time.
"Yes, I finished 59th on the order of merit again but all my stats were better than last year," admitted Jamieson, who has had top-five finishes in Dubai, the Netherlands and Australia during his globetrotting crusades this year.
"My stroke average, for instance, is half-a-shot better per round and that makes a big difference over the course of a tournament. I'm feeling more and more comfortable at this level."