Scotland’s Paul Lawrie goes close to making European Tour history

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Former Open champion Paul Lawrie threatened to record the first 59 in European Tour history before settling for an impressive opening 61 in the KLM Open on Thursday.

Starting from the 10th at Kennemer Golf Club, Lawrie carded an eagle and four birdies to race to the turn in 28 and picked up further shots on the second, sixth and seventh.

That left Lawrie needing to birdie the last two holes to break the magical 60 barrier, albeit on a par-70 and with preferred lies in operation, but the 46-year-old Scot pulled his tee shot on the eighth into a greenside bunker and did well to save par from eight feet.

Another par on the last meant Lawrie had to be content with the lowest round of his European Tour career and a two-shot lead over English trio James Morrison, David Horsey and Robert Rock, Dutch home favourite Joost Luiten and Argentina’s Tani Goya.

Lawrie, who recorded his first top-10 of the year by finishing tied for sixth in Denmark three weeks ago, had pulled out of a pre-tournament pro-am on Tuesday suffering from a back injury.

However, there were no signs of that when the former Ryder Cup player eagled the par-five 12th and birdied the 14th, 16th, 17th and 18th to equal the lowest nine holes on tour this season.

Further birdies followed on the second and sixth, and history beckoned when he found another by two-putting from long range on the par-five seventh, but a wayward tee shot on the eighth effectively put paid to his chances.

Low scoring was the order of the day with Mikko Ilonen and Morten Orum Madsen three off the lead on six under, while 2014 Ryder Cup captains Paul McGinley – who was playing alongside Lawrie – and Tom Watson both shot 69.

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