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Lawrie Establishes Himself with Improbable British Conquest
December 15, 1999

KAPALUA, Maui, Hawaii - For Paul Lawrie, 1999 was marked with drama and breakthroughs with a British Open victory and an introduction to the PGA TOUR.

On Jan. 6-9, Lawrie, from Aberdeen, Scotland, will make his first PGA TOUR stop of the new year at the Mercedes Championships to see if his 1999 performance can be duplicated, if not surpassed.

Lawrie was the most improbable of British Open winners, a virtual unknown who surprised the golf world by recording the biggest comeback in the history of major championship golf, and proving himself to be a worthy holder of the Claret Jug.

He won the 128th British Open by making up a record 10 strokes in the final round at Carnoustie, Scotland, and then defeating Frenchman Jean Van de Velde and American Justin Leonard, the '97 British Open champ, in a four-hole playoff.

Lawrie, 30, shot a final-round 67 on a drizzly, dreary July afternoon. It was the low round of the day, though overshadowed by Van de Velde's disastrous triple-bogey at the final hole that made the playoff possible.

Lawrie, who had won just twice previously on the PGA European Tour, made the most of the opportunity making birdies on the last two holes of the playoff.

Ranked 159th in the world rankings at the time, Lawrie became the first Scot to win the British Open since Sandy Lyle in 1985.

"I think every kid dreams about winning the Open," Lawrie said after his dramatic win. "There's probably no golfer who doesn't dream about winning the Open. Obviously it's a huge thing for anyone to do, especially when you win in Scotland and you live nearby."

American golf fans will be seeing more of the affable Scotsman now that he has decided to join the PGA TOUR full time. In 1999, Lawrie tied for 34th at the PGA Championship and tied for 21st at the NEC Invitational.

Although, he still intends to play enough European events to maintain his European Tour status as well.

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