DUBAI Paul Lawrie believes his second-place finish in last year's DP World Tour Championship in Dubai was the springboard for his return to the Ryder Cup stage after a 13-year absence.
The veteran Scot, winner of the British Open at Carnoustie in 1999, was in the doldrums for several years until he got a confidence boost from winning the Andalucian Open last year.
Lawrie then took another step up in class by coming close to landing the end-of-season Dubai showpiece featuring the top 60 players in Europe, finishing two strokes behind Alvaro Quiros of Spain who posted a winning tally of 19 under par.
"This week last year was the one that really gave me back my self belief," the 43-year-old told reporters on the eve of the $8 million extravaganza. "When you go close to winning tournaments of this size it gives you a boost.
"Last year made me feel like I belonged again in the top 50 of the world rankings. I think a lot of my play this season all goes down to that event."
World number 27 Lawrie has been consistency personified in 2012, stringing together nine top 10 finishes including victories at the Qatar Masters and the Johnnie Walker Championship in Scotland.
The highlight, though, was his involvement in Europe's unlikely comeback victory over the United States at the Ryder Cup in September.
Lawrie found the Ryder Cup a draining experience but felt he was now back to his best again.
"Things are starting to feel a bit fresher," he said. "I was a bit tired for a few weeks there.
"The Ryder Cup takes it out of you and then I was busy at home doing quite a few bits and pieces for my golf foundation."
The Greg Norman-designed Earth course that stages this week's tournament measures 7,675 yards and Lawrie believes it will play longer than it did last year.
"The fairways are a little softer... but I still think scoring will be pretty good," he said.
"The greens are immaculate and any time you give us greens of that quality, scoring is normally pretty good.
"These guys playing this week are world class at what they do so I would imagine somebody will shoot something similar to last year."
(Editing by Ken Ferris)