Lawrie aims to seize chance
Paul Lawrie has a golden opportunity this week to move a big step closer to his first Ryder Cup cap for 13 years.
But the 43-year-old Scot did not have the greatest of starts as he set off for the Reale Seguros Spanish Open in Seville on Monday.
"Today has been great fun," Lawrie said on his website. "Four-thirty alarm to catch the 6.40am flight to Heathrow, then onto Madrid.
"I missed the connection to Seville by 15 minutes, next flight seven hours later. Aarrgghhh - the joys of travel eh?"
It could be a trip well worth making, however.
With Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer and Justin Rose all on a week off, the former Open champion can leap from fifth to second on the cup points table, leaving only Rory McIlroy ahead of him.
Lawrie plays the first two rounds alongside European captain Jose Maria Olazabal - a team-mate on his one and only previous appearance against the Americans in 1999.
The Aberdeen golfer showed what he was made of in Boston by agreeing to hit the first shot of the match and being joint top points-scorer with partner Colin Montgomerie.
Olazabal has not forgotten how hostile an atmosphere it was that week - he had to stand and watch the invasion of the 17th green when the contest was still alive - and expects Chicago this September to be another test of character for his players.
Lawrie went nine years without a victory before capturing the Andalucian Open in Malaga last year and has since added the Qatar Masters as well as finishing runner-up to Alvaro Quiros at the Dubai World Championship.
With nobody in the world's top 35 taking part this week 43rd-ranked Lawrie is not the only one eyeing a chance to make a significant move.
Simon Dyson, Quiros, Anders Hansen and Francesco Molinari are the other top 50 players in the field, while Michael Hoey and Robert Rock have already won this season and another now could put them back into the thick of the cup race.
The event marks the 100th anniversary of the first Spanish Open - Frenchman Arnaud Massy won it - and it was also the tournament that launched the European Tour 40 years ago next week.
Antonio Garrido was the winner then and his son Ignacio is part of a home contingent that also includes Miguel Angel Jimenez, but not Sergio Garcia.
Jimenez remembers clearly that it was during the event last year that Seve Ballesteros, Spain's greatest-ever golfer, lost his battle with a brain tumour.
"The Spanish Open is very special to all of us Spanish players and I would love to have a victory in the tournament in my career," Jimenez told the European Tour website.
"It's a big week because of everything that is going on and of course.
"We will all have our thoughts about Seve and how we miss him, but we will have to also try to keep our minds on the tournament and try to do our best to win."
Olazabal designed the course and Quiros was the winner on it two years ago, beating England's James Morrison in a play-off.