Augusta, GA – Paul Lawrie will always be one of those guys who never got the credit he deserved.
His lone major title came at the 1999 British Open Championship. Sadly for Lawrie, the long-enduring legacy of that tournament doesn't belong to him.
That honor goes to Jean van de Velde.
The lasting image from the '99 British is of the unheralded Frenchman hiking up his pants, doing everything he possibly could to avoid winning the championship.
Van de Velde blew that claret jug, Lawrie didn't win it.
In fact, how many of you remember that the '99 British went to a playoff? Anybody recall the other golfer in that extra session?
It was Justin Leonard, but no one gives Lawrie the due he deserves.
On a brutal Sunday at Carnoustie almost 13 years ago, Lawrie fired a 67. Three other players broke 70 in that final round, and all three had 69s.
He won the four-hole playoff by three strokes. Lawrie's a major champion and gentlemen like Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia would kill for that moniker.
And the lack of credit burned Lawrie.
"I tried, to be fair, for a wee while, to change the way that people saw it," Lawrie said on Thursday after an opening-round 69 at the Masters. "I failed miserably to be honest. It doesn't bother me anymore. I just do what I do and get on with it."
Lawrie's 69, which has him second at Augusta National, two behind Henrik Stenson, who is still playing his first round, is the continuation of good form.
Lawrie captured last year's Open de Andalucia and came back with a win this year in Qatar. He tied for ninth at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and got back into the top 50 in the world rankings. That's how Lawrie got into the field at the Masters.
After about half of the first round, Lawrie declared himself ready to contend. He's made peace with how his Open Championship is perceived.
"If people want to give me respect for what happened, then they can. If they don't, it doesn't bother me anymore," Lawrie said. "I used to get so frustrated. It used to cause me some grief. I kind of lost that a long time ago, so it doesn't bother me anymore. If someone doesn't think I should have won and Jean should have, it used to really annoy me, but not anymore."
Now, Lawrie only thinks about one thing from his major breakthrough.
"I'm a better player now than I was 10 years ago, definitely."
Maybe all it will take is a green jacket to finally get the credit he deserves.