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Lawrie will be a Ryder Cup hit

Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal has backed newly crowned Open winner Paul Lawrie to handle the pressure of his Ryder Cup debut.

Lawrie's play-off victory at Carnoustie, sealed with birdies at the final two holes, gave him his first major, and the £350,000 top prize also secured his place in Mark James' European team.

It was only Lawrie's third European tour victory, but Olazabal has no doubt the 30-year-old from Aberdeen will be able to cope with the tension when the European team defends the trophy at Brookline in Boston in September.

"If he copes with the pressure the same way he did in the play-off we don't have anything to fear," Olazabal said in the run-up to this week's TNT Dutch Open at Hilversum.

"He proved he is strong enough in the play-off. I don't think he will face any tougher situation than a play-off for the Open Championship.

"I was very nervous on the first tee in my Ryder Cup debut (when Europe triumphed at Muirfield Village in 1987). But I was lucky because I was playing with Seve and I had no fear at that time because I was playing with him.

"It always helps to play with an experienced member of the team. It doesn't matter if it's Paul Lawrie or whoever. Whenever you play with someone who has the experience it's always going to be beneficial."

Olazabal, of course, has been through the experience of winning a major title and suddenly being catapulted from relative obscurity into the world spotlight after winning his first Masters title at Augusta in 1994.

He would advise Lawrie to get used to saying "no" if he wants to maintain his privacy and a sense of normality over the next few months.

"You have to make your own decisions," added Olazabal, who has almost fully recovered from the hand injury he suffered when he punched a hotel room wall after a poor first round at the US Open.

"Obviously everybody wants to talk to you, wants a piece of you. But the bottom line is that you're going to be the guy who says yes or no and you will have to learn to say no a lot of times.

"One thing he will have to do is make sure his time at home is his own. When he is on the golf course or at tournaments it's fine, but when he is at home it's up to him to keep that time to himself.

"I don't know if his life will change, but the one thing for sure that has changed is that he is a Major winner now.

"He will feel a lot of relief; he will feel a proud man, and no matter what happens from now on nobody is going to take that one away from him.

"He is going to be more relaxed and happy. When he reaches 45 or 50 years old and looks back, even if he doesn't win more Majors, he will also be proud of himself."

Lawrie and joint runner-up at Carnoustie Jean Van de Velde have both withdrawn from this week's event after their exertions on the Scottish coast, leaving Olazabal - who missed the cut last week with rounds of 78 and 79 - one of the favourites for the £133,000 first prize.

Several players on the fringe of qualification are also chasing the vital Ryder Cup points on offer, with Bernhard Langer (12th in the current standings), Costantino Rocca (29th), Andrew Coltart (11th), Sven Struver (13th) and Alex Cejka (14th) all looking for a good finish.

Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood and former Open champion Nick Price are also in the strong field alongside defending champion Stephen Leaney of Australia.