Martin Dempster: Why Martin Laird deserves more credit for US success

There's no need for that search party now. Martin Laird may have been missing in action for a spell, but he's back with a bang.

Sunday, 11th October 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Monday, 12th October 2020, 3:04 pm
Martin Laird, who is having to line up putts by kneeling on his right knee since undergoing surgery on his left one earlier in the year, claimed his fourth PGA Tour title with a play-off victory in the Shriners Hospitals For Children Open in Las Vegas. Picture: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Martin Laird, who is having to line up putts by kneeling on his right knee since undergoing surgery on his left one earlier in the year, claimed his fourth PGA Tour title with a play-off victory in the Shriners Hospitals For Children Open in Las Vegas. Picture: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

It had been thought that the Glaswegian had decided to lie low after the PGA Tour restarted in June following its Covid-19 lockdown due to personal concerns about the state of the world amidst the pandemic.

He'd not been seen out on tour since the Puerto Rico Open back in February until popping his head above the parapet at the start of the US circuit's new wraparound season in California just over a month ago.

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That absence, it has now emerged, was down to him suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee as he was gearing up for the restart in the summer, but talk about making up for lost time.

Out of the blue, Laird has become a winner again on the PGA Tour, landing his fourth title with a second play-off success in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas.

The 37-year-old beat golf's man of the moment, US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, to claim his latest win at TPC Summerlin. Matthew Wolff, another of the game's impressive young bucks, was one of the players he defeated in the sudden-death shoot-out.

It was a mighty impressive performance from Laird and his career record on the strongest tour in world golf, where he's played since 2008, deserves to be put in perspective.

The Scot now has more PGA Tour titles to his name than Ian Poulter (three, though two of those are WGCs), Paul Casey (three) and Lee Westwood (two but, in fairness, has 44 titles worldwide) while he's on the same mark as Sandy Lyle in terms of regular tour wins on the US circuit.

Add in Lyle's two major victories, of course, and that elevates him to a different level, but there is no denying that Laird, with career earnings of close to $19.5 million, can be very proud indeed of his level of success on the other side of the Atlantic.

After being perilously close earlier in the year to slipping outside the leading 400 players in the world, he's now back in the top 100, having been as high as 21st after his win in the 2011 Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.

He's not really hit the heights in any of the four majors so far in his career, but there's still time. The 2021 Masters is now on his schedule and, on the back of this win, he'll also hopefully be playing in The Open at Royal St George's next summer as well.

Laird was playing some of the best golf of his career when he opened with a couple of good rounds to sit handily-placed in the 2013 Claret Jug event at Muirfield before suffering one of those torrid days in the third round. He'd love a chance of redemption and why not?Laird was delighted to make his kids proud with his weekend win and, not for the first time, he served his country proud, too.

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