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Paul Lawrie wants to return to winning ways

Former British Open champion Paul Lawrie will aim to land his first title in almost four years when he heads a strong field at the Madeira Island Open, which begins on Thursday.

The Scotsman, who triumphed at Carnoustie in 1999, last won a tournament at the Wales Open in 2002. The field includes eight Ryder Cup players and 43 European Tour winners.

Swede Niclas Fasth, a member of the victorious 2002 Ryder Cup team and whose maiden European Tour crown came in Madeira in 2000, is the highest-ranked player in the line-up at 56th.

Victory in Madeira could vault Fasth into the world's top 50 and earn him a place in next month's U.S. Masters field.

Ryder Cup aspirant Kenneth Ferrie is hoping 13 will be a lucky number for him this week as he continues his bid to earn a debut for Europe in September's clash with the United States.

The Briton, who is in ninth place in Europe's top-10 automatic qualifiers for the showdown at the K Club, will have 13 new clubs in the bag when he takes on the strongest Madeira field for some years.

"I have 13 new clubs in the bag this week. I'm not grasping at straws or anything, it's more that I've just tweaked things to try," world 80th-placed Ferrie said on Wednesday.

"As for the Ryder Cup... I'm in a lot better place than a lot of people and the guys ahead of me aren't that far ahead."

A win could see Ferrie vault above his close friend and fellow-Englishman Nick Dougherty, who lies one spot above him in the Ryder Cup table. Dougherty is taking a break this week.

March 23, 2006


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