Tee to Green: David Law’s win a reward for faith

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 10: Celine Boutier of France and David Law of Scotland pose with their winners trophies during day four of the ISPS Handa Vic Open at 13th Beach Golf Club on February 10, 2019 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 10: Celine Boutier of France and David Law of Scotland pose with their winners trophies during day four of the ISPS Handa Vic Open at 13th Beach Golf Club on February 10, 2019 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Well, that has to be the quickest-ever return on record for T2G’s annual Useless Stab in the Dark column.

Grasping aimlessly for positives as usual – no, seriously – this year’s predictions in the first column of 2019 contained less of a prediction, more of a plaintive hope that one of the rookie Scots professionals on the European Tour would win an event this year.

Just six weeks into the campaign, David Law provided the win in this weekend’s Vic Open. It’s enough to make a tired, jaundiced old cynic feel good about the world again…well, at least until I had to watch Scotland’s second half against Ireland all over again.

It wasn’t just the fact that David won – and there plenty of reasons for getting all warm and fuzzy about that we’ll get into later – it was the manner of victory.

Needing, effectively, three birdies in his last three holes to – he thought – get into a play-off with Wade Ormsby, he birdied 16, parred 17 and then hit a glorious hybrid to the heart of the 18th green for an eagle.

Ormsby faltered behind him, and David’s inward half of 31 – after calling a two-shot penalty on himself on the ninth – was enough for the title.

The Aberdonian had begun slowly on Tour after qualifying fvrom the Challenge Tour – a qualification built almost entirely on his win in the Scottish Hydro Challenge at Aviemore – with two missed cuts out of four and a modest £15,000. He’d never previously cracked the top 25 in a Tour event.

The quiet start was totally understandable, however. David and partner Natasha took delivery of a baby daughter Penelope at the start of December, a sister for Freddie, their son who was tragically still-born in July of 2017.

The emotional aspect of this is almost impossible for anyone who hasn’t experienced it to understand.

I know of plenty sportsmen who have “gone off” at least for a bit from becoming fathers (oddly it tends to make sporting mothers better at what they do).

With the extra emotion involved for David, we’d all given him a free pass from the day job for a good while.

In addition, he’s been a likeable and approachable guy since he was a fresh-faced,bespectacled Harry Potter lookalike in the juniors, winning the Scottish Boys and Men’s matchplay in the same year.

It’s fair to say that even hard bitten golf writers had a bit of a soft spot for Davie. You’d struggle to find a more unanimously popular figure in the Scottish game, maybe in Scottish sport.

Thus the breakthrough victory at Aviemore last year was my personal favourite victory of any event I attended during 2018, also because he hadn’t exactly set the professional scene alight in his five years.

Thankfully, David has had the faith, patience and unwavering support of Paul Lawrie, who always believed in him.

David joined Paul’s Foundation in his mid-teens and has been carefully but sensitively mentored – in all aspects – by the former Open champion for over a decade.

As Lawrie said in a tweet in tribute to David, the real purpose of running the foundation – as exemplary an example of how to put back into the game as there is in the sport – was not specifically to discover tour winners.

But Paul also said the thrill of David winning at Aviemore was almost as great as when he had won himself.

One can only imagine Paul’s pride and joy at winning a fully-fledged Tour event now.

It’s early days on the 2019 European Tour, but David Drysdale is 11th on the Race to Dubai, David Law is now 17th, Scott Jamieson is 24th, and Law’s fellow rookies Grant Forrest and Bob MacIntyre have had solid starts.

It’s just February. But hopefully last year’s rather miserable campaign for the Scots is behind us.

More co-sanctioned events please

The Vic Open was a joint venture between the Australian Tours, the European Tour and the LPGA, and went off pretty well.

Celine Boutier, the young French pro, won the women’s event, and there was equal prizemoney for both versions, which were played simultaneously.

Pablo Larrazabal of Spain was one of many male European Tour players to openly question why there weren’t more examples where men’s and women’s run together. Morocco has done it for a couple of seasons but the women’s event there often passes without much notice.

The European Tour has wanted to help the ailing Ladies European Tour for some time, but LET officials seem set on lifting themselves out of their issues of lack of events and sponsorship by their own means.

That’s their perogative. But even if they were thriving, you’d think that co-sanctioned events run in tandem would be appealing in their own right.

There were some issues in Australia involved in course set-up, of course, but none of them are insurmountable.

There’s no obvious reason why the Scottish Opens already at one venue, couldn’t be in the same week.