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Doors swinging at last-chance saloon for Lawrie

You've got to keep in the captain's good books so it was perhaps a blessing that Paul Lawrie didn't dole out the "spanking" he had jokingly threatened to give Paul McGinley during a challenge match between the pair at the former Open champion's own golf centre on the outskirts of Aberdeen yesterday.

Paul McGinley, the Ryder Cup captain, defeated Paul Lawrie in a par-3 duel at the former Open champion's golf centre in Aberdeen. Picture: Getty
Paul McGinley, the Ryder Cup captain, defeated Paul Lawrie in a par-3 duel at the former Open champion's golf centre in Aberdeen. Picture: Getty

As it turned out, the nine-hole par-3 shoot-out, which helps raise funds for Lawrie's flourishing Foundation, went McGinley's way. The Irishman dinked it round in 24 blows, three-under-par, compared to Lawrie's level-par card. The captain is still able, even with a painful inflammation of his left shoulder. "It's the first time I've been to Aberdeen never mind Paul's place," said a smiling McGinley.

On a more serious playing front, Lawrie may need a favour from European skipper McGinley if he is to have a part in the first Ryder Cup on Scottish soil for 41 years. The Aberdonian needs to do himself a few favours too, of course.

The 2014 campaign has been one hampered by a niggling injury and frustrating rummage around for form. The 45-year-old has not managed a top-10 on the European Tour now since a year past January and currently languishes down in 80th place on the European qualifying points list.

The automatic route is now, effectively, a busted flush but, as he heads towards the swinging doors of the last chance saloon, Lawrie still has opportunities to fling a few decent cards down on the table.

If he could somehow winkle out a couple of eye-catching results in this week's Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his own back yard at Royal Aberdeen and next week's Open at Royal Liverpool, McGinley would be delighted as the Dubliner continues to cast an eye over potential wildcards.

A proven competitor in the cut-and-thrust of the Ryder Cup arena, Lawrie also boasts a decent track record on the PGA Centenary course at Gleneagles having won the Johnnie Walker Championship there two years ago. He is an outside bet but Lawrie, a hero of the Miracle of Medinah in 2012, refuses to write off his chances of being an ace in the European pack again.

"I'm certainly not in the position I would have liked to have been in, coming in to the Scottish Open as far as Ryder Cup selection is concerned," he admitted. "On the whole I haven't played anywhere near good enough to get in the team. But the Scottish Open and the Open are two of the biggest weeks and it's my job now to try and knock off some form, get going before the end of qualifying and give Paul a little bit of a headache.

"I'm miles down the list at the moment and it would take an unbelievable effort to get in the team now. But I haven't given up. I'm a professional and if it requires me to knock off the Open or the Scottish Open, well you just don't know. I know as well as anyone else you're not going to pick someone that far down the list, but that's up to me to change that.

"I've got some good feelings the last few days hitting balls at Royal Aberdeen."

McGinley, who watched another potential pick, Graeme McDowell, win the French Open at the weekend, is remaining upbeat about Lawrie's prospects. There is strong talk that Lawrie will be a vice-captain but McGinley wants his team finalised first before he makes further appointments to his backroom team.

"Automatically, it is very difficult but I've got three picks and Paul is obviously an option," he said. "Coming into form late is never a problem. Paul's pedigree is there, he just has to show some form. His window is closing, we all know that, but he's got these two big weeks now. Without putting pressure on him, I wish him the best of luck.

"There are about 20 guys who would be good vice-captains, and obviously Paul is very strongly one of those. I want things to evolve and not speak about the last two vice-captains much because I'd rather they all focused 100% on making the team, Paul maybe more so than most."

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