The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire)
Behind Europe’s glory
Friends will become rivals today when former Ryder Cup team- mates Paul Lawrie and Jose Maria Olazabal face each other in Aberdeen.
Former Open champion Lawrie and two- time Masters winner Olazabal go head to head in the first staging of the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre Challenge today.
The duo were teammates for the 2009 match in Brookline and linked up again last year when Olazabal captained the European team, which Lawrie was a member of, to victory in Medinah.
The two major winners will take part in an exhibition game over the ninehole layout on the south banks of the river Dee at the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre, which is also the home of Lawrie’s charitable foundation.
Lawrie said:“Tohaveone of Europe’s best ever players in Aberdeen to play against me is going to be fantastic.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to is looking forward to it and it’s really nice of Jose to agree tocomeas it will raise money and the profile for our foundation.
“This is a completely new event for us and it'll be great to have some of the kids from my foundation along to get a few tips from Ollie and me.
“For Aberdeen's golfers it's a unique opportunity too to get up close and to see the two of us having an exhibition match in a completely relaxed environment.
“I'm really looking forward to the whole thing ahead of my Johnnie Walker title defence later this week.”
Following their match Lawrie and Olazabal will conduct a clinic for some of Lawrie’s foundation members. The event, to be held annually, will see Lawrie take on some of the European Tour’s finest players over his home course.
Admission to the event is free and the match gets underway at 11am. Captain Liselotte Neumann hailed her rookies after Europe won t he Solheim Cup on American soil for the first time.
Neumann’s team beat the United States 18-10 to successfully defend the title they won in Ireland in 2011 with six of the 12 players making their debuts in the match play tournament.
Among the group was English duo Charley Hull and Jodi Ewart Shadoff who were two of Neumann’s captain’s picks and both claimed wins in Sunday’s singles.
Carlota Ciganda, Caroline Masson, Beatriz Recari and Giulia Sergas completed the set of first-timers and Neumann was delighted with their contribution.
“They made me proud,” she said following the victory. “All of them. It was just a total team effort. Everybody’s been playing well, everybody’s been really helpful.”
She added: “When I was over in England doing my captain’s picks, I was really looking at if I picked this player, who would I pair her with.
“And I was pretty much set on Caroline Hedwall and Jodi. And when I picked Jodi it sort of made i t automatic t o pick Charley.
“So I already then had a few of the pairings in my mind. And it was just amazing, both those girls are playing so well.”
Hull, 17, claimed a stunning win over the experienced Paula Creamer and Neumann was quick to heap praise on the precocious teenager.
“She was on my junior team two years ago and she’s just a special girl,” she said.
“And she has a special gameandshe brings a lot of energy to our team and she’s just a terrific player.
“She plays fearless and it was just awesome to have her on our team and I think we all love Charley.”
Hull described her Solheim Cup experience as “wicked” and, despite being the youngest player in the competition’s history, she claimed she did not feel any nerves over the weekend.
“I didn’t really feel that nervous, because this is how I always look at golf,” she said. “I’m not going to die if I miss it. Just hit it, and find it, and hit it again.”
Following her win against Creamer, Hull asked her illustrious counterpart to autograph a ball and later explained that it was for a friend at home.
Although Hull’s request may have been unortho- dox, Creameradmitted that she would have liked to have done the same when she made her debut as an 18-year-old.
“I was 18 when I played in my first one, and would I have liked to get some autographs at my first Solheim Cup?” she asked. “Yes. I would have. Charley’s going to be around for a long time, and it’s pretty neat to see the future of their team as well.
“She was a good player and she represented her country very well.”
Recari was another rookie to win on Sunday as she beat Angela Stanford 2 and 1 and the Spaniard admitted she felt overwhelmed by her achievements.
“I didn’t know what to expect coming into this week because it’s such a different experience,” she said. “I don’t have words. I mean, even if you interview me in Spanish, I still wouldn’t have words. We have bonded as a team and this has been one of the most wonderful experiences of my entire career. It was such a good team and I’m just so proud.”