Martin Laird not ruling out Ryder Cup ‘dream’ after rediscovering form

Martin Laird is congratulated by Matthew Wolff in Las Vegas
Martin Laird beat Matthew Wolff and Austin Cook in a play-off in Las Vegas

Martin Laird hopes his rediscovered form ensures he does not have another seven-year wait for a tournament win and puts him in Ryder Cup contention.

The 37-year-old Scot secured the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open title on Sunday after a play-off.

Despite a world ranking high of 21 in 2011, he has yet to fulfil a “dream” of playing for Europe in the Ryder Cup.

“I still need to keep doing what I did in the past week before it becomes something I can reach for,” he said.

“This week was probably the best tee to green I’ve hit the ball consistently in any tournament I’ve played. If I keep hitting the ball like I am, I know I’m going to be there or thereabouts every week, hopefully this is not the last one and I can add a few more before I get too much older.”

Laird told The Nine on BBC Scotland that the win in Las Vegas, his fourth on the USPGA Tour and which lifts him to 88th in the world rankings, followed some tweaks to his game and improvements in his fitness.

“My coach and I figured out something with my swing earlier this year and we caught another little habit of mine about a month ago and we figured something in it to really help my golf striking and, in the last four events, I’ve hit it really nicely,” he explained.

“I’ve just struggled putting, but that was also getting better and it all clicked on Sunday and I made some big putts coming down the stretch.”

Laird had to endure a play-off against Americans Austin Cook and Matthew Wolff, the 21-year-old world number 12, having failed to win it on the 18th with a finishing bogey.

“It is probably the most controlled I’ve felt in a golf tournament,” he said. “Even coming down the stretch, when I didn’t finish it off at 18, I wasn’t panicked, I wasn’t disappointed, I knew that I could still do it in the play-off.

“It was a good field in Vegas. There were a few top-10 players and a bunch of top-20 players. Every win is nice, but when you pull off a win against a really strong field, it definitely makes a little bit more special.”

US-based Laird, who won the same event 11 years ago, admitted that there had been times when he doubted he would win a tour event again and that his form in the last seven years had not warranted consideration for the Ryder Cup.

However, while recognising he is among the older members of the tour, he believes he can build on a win that came so soon after an enforced break from tournament play because of the Covid-19 pandemic and an injury.

“I don’t see why I can’t, over the next few years, get as good or better as I have ever been playing,” he added. “The way I’ve been hitting the ball in the last few months is back to where I was in 2010-11 when I was playing well and, mentally, I think I am better now.”

BBC News