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Lawrie Could Benefit From Injury

July 19, 2000

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) _ If Paul Lawrie becomes the first Scot since 1882 to defend the British Open at the home of golf, he’ll probably send a letter of thanks to a boy who almost knocked him out of the tournament.

Lawrie was giving a lesson to a group of youngsters at the tented village behind the Old Course, when the boy’s backswing smacked him in the wrist.

Lawrie needed treatment for his swollen wrist and will have even more before he tees off Thursday.

But the injury meant he was unable to practice on Tuesday and had only one practice round on the eve of the championship. While that might hamper the preparations of most players it might bode well for the Scot.

``How much of a handicap was it? I had one practice last year and won,″ Lawrie said, referring to his victory at Carnoustie.

``Normally I have one practice round. This did not interfere with my plans at all. I had the day off. I chilled out. It was nice, no problem.″

Lawrie’s relaxed demeanor contrasts with his difficult year as defending British Open champion.

Lawrie, who has collected just three titles in eight years, hasn’t won since Carnoustie.

But he has spent most of the year being lauded as the first Scot since Sandy Lyle in 1985 to win the Open and the first Brit since Nick Faldo in 1992. Lawrie also ended an American streak of four wins in a row, starting with John Daly at St. Andrews in 1995, Tom Lehman at Lytham, Justin Leonard at Troon and Mark O’Meara at Birkdale.

``It doesn’t really bother me that I haven’t won,″ Lawrie said. ``It is no big deal for me. I think I have been playing pretty good but not as consistent as I would like. I am not far away from playing my best golf again, so hopefully I will this week.″

Lawrie says he is taking anti-inflammatory tablets to help ease the wrist injury.

``As I was going to walk behind him he just nailed me,″ Lawrie said of the boy.

``I think I have been very, very lucky. It caught my watch. Had my watch not been on it would have been quite messy.″

Lawrie said he would track down the boy’s name and address and send him a letter.

If Lawrie emulates Bob Ferguson, who held onto the title while defending champion at St. Andrews in 1882, he may be sending another.

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