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Golf: Paul Lawrie’s match play addition is most welcome

29 Jul | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Golf: Paul Lawrie’s match play addition is most welcome

The 1999 Open champion hosts this week's inaugural tournament, which could be one of the most exciting European Tour events of the year

Player-hosted tournaments are proving to be quite popular on the European Tour.

It is easy to see why. The profile and relationships of the headlining golfer significantly boosts the prospect of securing a stellar field and highly-coveted sponsorship deals. This, in turn, guarantees a strong turnout from fans.

Rory McIlroy did a fine job at the Irish Open in May, while Ian Poulter will assume the responsibility – followed by Luke Donald, Justin Rose and Lee Westwood over the next three years – for the returning British Masters in October.

Sandwiched between the two of those high-profile events is this week’s inaugural Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play, which takes place at Murcar Links Golf Club in Aberdeen, Scotland.

And while the 1999 Open champion doesn’t boast the charisma or star power of his Ryder Cup compatriots, it might be that his tournament proves to be the most exciting of the lot.

The clue is in the title. In a golf calendar dominated by stroke-play events, the prospect of match play – an unpredictable and thrilling format which remains a staple of the amateur game – is always greeted with excitement.

Picking a potential winner, therefore, is tough. But not impossible.

28/1 – Paul Lawrie tournament winner

Lawrie will feel much better about his chances of victory on home soil than he did a month ago, having finished well inside the red numbers at his last three starts – the BMW International Open, Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and Open Championship, where he started the weekend in third position.

Richie Ramsay, his fellow Scotsman, is tournament favourite and will understandably fancy his chances. The 32-year-old, a three-time European Tour winner who captured his most recent title in Morocco in March, became the first British golfer in almost a century to win the US Amateur Championship – a match play event – in 2006 and boasts the course record at Murcar.

“The course really suits me because you’ve got to be straight off the tee, which is one of my main strengths,” Ramsay told the European Tour. “I played it about a month ago and the rough is really up, so if you hit any wayward shots, you’re really going to be struggling to make par out there.

18/1 – Richie Ramsay tournament winner

“There’s a lot of strategy involved in playing well there and knowing the wind direction hopefully gives me a bit of an advantage. So that local knowledge, combined with some decent form recently, hopefully bodes well for the week.”

Ramsay is joined in the field by fellow US Amateur winner Matt Fitzpatrick, who has made a commendable transition to the paid ranks after turning professional and earning full-time playing rights at the first attempt last year.

The 20-year-old Englishman, who came within a shot of winning his maiden Tour title at the Omega European Masters in Switzerland last week, has experience on the links – he won the silver medal at the Open in 2013 – and it would be of no surprise if he went one better this week.

25/1 – Matt Fitzpatrick tournament winner

The €1million event boasts several other notable names in the draw, including former Ryder Cup stars Edoardo Molinari and Nicolas Colsaerts. Also teeing up is Chris Wood, another former top amateur at the Open who clinched his third professional title at the Lyoness Open in Austria last month.

It promises to be quite a contest.

Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play winner and matchbets

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