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Wilson splits with Lawrie after 7 years

Open champion Paul Lawrie, who leaves on Monday for the start of a new career based in America, and club manufacturers Wilson have parted company after a seven-year association.

"In view of Paul's recent decision to play mostly in America next year, it would not have made commerical sense for us to continue to work with him in Europe," said Angus Moir, golf business director for Wilson in Europe.

"We're disappointed to see the contract end after such a successful year for both Paul and Wilson. We're confident that we can continue to sustain a high tour profile in Europe."

Only in January Lawrie signed a deal designed to keep him with Wilson until 2002, but his switch to the U.S. Tour has apparently allowed him to weigh other offers.

The 30-year-old Scot's management company wouldn't reveal any details of what is in the pipeline.

"All I can do is confirm the end of the Wilson contract," said spokesperson Caroline Kingston.

Lawrie will be in Phoenix next week for the Tiger Woods-organized Williams World Challenge between 12 of the game's leading players.

He then moves on to Hawaii for the start of the U.S. Tour, but does plan to play enough European tour events to retain membership.

Ranked only 159th in the world at the start of July, Lawrie came through the qualifying event for the Open at Carnoustie, where he staged the greatest comeback in major championship history.

Ten strokes behind with a round to play, he shot a 4-under-par 67 and pulled level with Jean Van de Velde and Justin Leonard when the Frenchman incredibly triple-bogeyed the final hole, blowing a three-stroke lead.

In the four-hole playoff that followed Lawrie birdied the last two holes to become the unlikely champion.

He was co-top points scorer in his Ryder Cup debut in September, partnering European No. 1 - and fellow Scot - Colin Montgomerie in foursomes and fourballs