Omega European Masters
Fields might be thin, but victory on the DP World Tour still builds plenty of confidence for winners
Thriston Lawrence celebrates with his caddie after winning the Omega European Masters on the first playoff hole.
It’s not likely to last too long, but right now Thriston Lawrence owns a unique distinction in golf. Winner of the Joburg Open last November, which was the first-ever DP World Tour event, the South African is now also the latest champion on what used to be called the European Tour. It took him 73 holes to get it done at the Omega European Masters though. Lawrence and Englishman Matt Wallace were tied at 18-under 262 on Sunday after four circuits of the endlessly picturesque Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club high in the Swiss Alps, but a par on the first extra hole was enough to give the two-time South African Amateur champion the victory and a check for €333,330.
For the record, another Englishman, Richard Mansell, claimed third place, two shots out of the playoff and one stroke ahead of the cosmopolitan trio in joint fourth spot, Scott Jamieson of Scotland, Frenchman Antoine Rozner and Jorge Campillo of Spain.
Eight years a professional, Lawrence has moved steadily through the paid ranks, winning on the Middle Eastern MENA Tour, on the Sunshine Tour and Big Easy Tour in his homeland and now (twice) on the DP World circuit. He isn’t only a winner though. Between his two victories on the DP World Tour this season, the 25-year-old has posted five other top-10s, pushing him to ninth place on the season-long Race to Dubai points list.
“It’s a privilege to get this victory,” said Lawrence in the immediate aftermath of a win that pushes him into the top 100 on the World Ranking. “There is so much history going around this event. Look at the list of past champions. I can’t wait to get my hands on the trophy.
“I was OK going into the playoff. I looked on it as just another chance to win. The is such a tricky golf course. You can lose a few shots, especially around 14-15-16. And on the par 5s, it is easy to make a silly mistake on holes where other guys are making birdies. I’m happy with the way I stayed patient though. And I’m so happy to win. It’s a dream come true for me. Growing up, I always wanted to be in the top 100 in the world. To achieve it is quite emotional.”
For Wallace, there was disappointment in a season where the 32-year-old finished a frustrating 126th on the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup eligibility points list, just missing out competing in the playoffs. Still, there will be encouragement for the four-time (but none since 2018) European Tour winner though. His final-round 66 was bogey-free, the three-putt on the playoff hole leading to his his first (but ultimately decisive) dropped shot to par on the day.
Amidst such positivity, however, some perspective is also required. With the stiffest competition playing across the Atlantic at the PGA Tour’s Tour Championship, this historic event—first contested in 1923 (as the Swiss Open) and including the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Nick Price, Nick Faldo, Danny Willett, Matt Fitzpatrick, Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els, Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie, Jose Maria Olazabal, Craig Stadler, Ken Nagle and Bobby Locke as past champions—“attracted” a notably weak field. Only four members of the world’s top 100 made the trip “up the mountain” and just two of the eventual top-10 (Lawrence and Spain’s Adri Arnaus) could boast rankings inside the top-150.
Still, none of which will surely bother the new champion. For Lawrence this was another significant step up professional golf’s increasingly steep ladder. Yes, he’s now the “latest” DP World Tour champion. But it is more than likely this one won’t be his last.