The Scots are on my mind – for lots of reasons. We (Ireland, that is) managed to beat them in the rugby last weekend, which cheered us up no end having been very disappointing against England. And then last Sunday there was David Law winning the ISPS Handa Vic Open, Down Under, at 13th Beach Golf Club, near Melbourne – his first ever European Tour win early in his rookie season.
I first became aware of David Law round about 2010. He was an obvious talent and had at that stage already won the Scottish Boys and was on his way to annexing a second Scottish Championship. And then came a decidedly big bump in what had, to that point, been quite a smooth road. He was overlooked for the 2011 Walker Cup – and to rub salt into the wound it was to be played at Royal Aberdeen. It was a controversial admission, seemingly vindicated when GB&I managed to beat their American counterparts by 14 matches to 12. That must have rubbed more salt into the wound. That US side was dripping with talent, too, – Jordan Spieth, Patrick Cantlay, Peter Uihlein, Harris English and Russell Henley were all showcasing their skills – to no avail.David Law was no part of that immense victory, but by this stage he had already been under the wing of Paul Lawrie, former Open champion and twice a Ryder Cup player, for a number of years. That support was crucial, as it would be to any young player. Having Lawrie as a mentor with his vast experience on tap is a dream come true for all promising young Scots players and it is difficult to think of any other Scottish player who has singlehandedly given so much back to the game in his home country.
Lawrie has achieved amazing things in his playing career, my own personal favourite being his performance in the 2012 Ryder Cup singles when he beat Brandt Snedeker 5 and 4 with the best figures of the day. But he is arguably on track to achieving even greater things with his Paul Lawrie Foundation, providing support to legions of young Scottish boys and girls coming through the ranks. It’s his own availability and accessibility to the players that means so much and makes the difference.But back to David Law. With Lawrie’s help he managed to put aside that Walker Cup rebuff and win a professional event, the prestigious Northern Open on the Scottish circuit, while still an amateur, and five years ago he made his way on to the Challenge Tour. According to Law you need to finish in the top 20 or thereabouts in the end of season rankings to be able to make a living. His best end of season ranking in his first four years was 60th. That took him up to the end of 2017, a tragic year in which he and his partner (now fiancee) Natasha suffered the loss of a stillborn son. Life wasn’t good and it’s probably fair to say that on the golf side of things it was all looking a little dicey. Law admitted that he knew 2018 was always going to be a pivotal year – if things didn’t go well he was going to get a job over the winter and take stock.
And then came the SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels & Resorts at Aviemore. Admittedly it’s not a title to trip off the tongue with ease, but it’s one I’m sure that David Law will remember forever more. His first Challenge Tour victory propelled him to 14th spot in the end of year rankings and with that he bagged one of the 15 automatic cards on offer for the European Tour. Life changing and the fulfillment of part one of a boyhood dream.These are early days for the 27-year old Scot playing amongst the big boys. So far he has recorded two made cuts, two missed cuts and a victory. Apart from the welcome injection into the bank account, that victory secures him playing privileges for the next two years – job security, in other words, and it’s also the fulfillment of part two of that boyhood dream. He has now moved on to play his next event in Perth (the Aussie version) at the glorious Lake Karrinyup, a course where Gill Stewart, one of my Scottish fellow holiday makers and I represented Great Britain in the then Commonwealth Tournament back in the day. In fact, I believe there is a picture of that GB team still adorning the clubhouse walls somewhere!
I couldn’t be happier for David Law and Scottish golf – what a boost for them all, and there is some amazing talent in the wings. Expect more Scottish success in the next wee while.
Running concurrently with the men’s tournament was a women’s event for the same money. Great stuff – and an obvious way forward in the game for the women. France’s Celine Boutier won and this, her inaugural LPGA victory, will provide a similar springboard to her career as Law has received in his.There are a couple of things, however, that have made me EXTREMELY CROSS! One, the Ladies’ European Tour who have done the legwork for so long down in Oz, were unceremoniously superseded and elbowed out by the much more affluent LPGA, meaning the opportunities for LET members shrank enormously. And then, despite all our protestations that we haven’t got equal opportunities with the guys, the LPGA players don’t turn up!! Divot of the century to the LPGA.
See the bigger picture at least once in a while, please.
Meanwhile, let’s go Scotland!