THE Edinburgh man who swapped his golf clubs for a microphone to become one of the sport’s top commentators has branded criticism of Paul Lawrie for missing last month’s US Open as “silly”.
Ewen Murray – who cut his golfing teeth at Baberton, where his dad Jimmy was the club professional – believes Lawrie was right not to make the long trip to San Francisco for the second major of the season.
And he is confident the Aberdonian’s decision will be vindicated when he goes on to bridge a 13-year gap to earn a place back on the European Ryder Cup team later this year.
“I thought the criticism of Paul for not going to the US Open was silly as I reckoned it was a sensible decision,” said Murray, the main golf commentator for Sky Sports these days.
“He had done that (played in the US Open) in the middle of his career and there was no need for him to go over to San Francisco to play on what I think is one of the poorest courses on the US Open rota.
“Paul knows exactly what he is doing in his bid to make the Ryder Cup. He knows how to plan out his schedule.”
Lawrie is on course to earn an automatic place on the European team for the match at Medinah in September.
He’s sitting third on the points list and will almost be over the finishing line if he can pick up a big cheque in either this week’s Scottish Open or next week’s Open.
“If he could win this week, what a way that would be to secure a Ryder Cup spot and one thing for sure is that he knows the Castle Stuart course well,” added Murray ahead of today’s opening round in the Aberdeen Asset Management-sponsored event in Inverness.
“He drives the ball well and also had a tidy short game which you need at Castle Stuart. The holes tighten a bit closer to the green and Paul has the game to do well here.
“Put it this way, I won’t be surprised to see him in the top five come Sunday night.”
Among those joining Lawrie in the field for this week’s £2.5 million event are rookie Scottish pros James Byrne, David Law and Michael Stewart.
“It is great to see the likes of James, David and Michael getting invitations and that has obviously come through their connection with Martin Gilbert and AAM as amateurs,” noted Murray, who won the 1971 Scottish Boys Stroke Play Championship at Lanark in his own amateur days.
“It’s a big step up from amateur golf to the top level in the professional ranks and this week will help them see where they are in terms of their career development.”
Looking ahead to The Open at Lytham, Murray picked out Luke Donald, the defending champion this week, as the player he fancies to pick up the Claret Jug.
“I think Lytham is suited to a player like Luke and if he can make a successful defence of his title at Castle Stuart then that will give him a tremendous amount of confidence heading into The Open,” he said. n The Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open is one of over 200 golf tournaments to be shown live on Sky Sports this year including three majors and the Ryder Cup. Coverage can also be viewed on mobile and tablet devices via Sky Go.