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Dublin: 8 °C Wednesday 20 November, 2019

Lowry full of confidence and happy to be home for tilt at Irish Open

The 32-year-old is coming off the back of the best five-month stretch of his career.

BACK HOME FOR a summer stretch, Shane Lowry could hardly have wished for a better first half to the season as he gears up for next week’s Irish Open in Lahinch, 10 years on from his seismic success at Baltray.

After a long five-month shift in America, punctuated by an occasional return across the Atlantic, Lowry can look forward to an extended mid-season block on home soil, taking in the west and then Portrush for next month’s Open. 

PADDY POWER SHANE LOWRY 01 Shane Lowry pictured in Dublin this morning. Source: lorraineosullivan

Lowry has previously spoken about the added stress associated with playing at the Irish Open, given his time is stretched with extra media and corporate commitments, but he is in a completely different head space this time around.

Coming off the back of the best five months of his career, the 32-year-old finds himself in a rich vein of form, having turned a corner and kicked on from his win at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship back in January.

From there, Lowry has recorded two top-five finishes on the PGA Tour — at the RBC Heritage and Canadian Open — while finishing in a tie for eighth at the PGA Championship, a run of results that have seen the Offaly native climb back up to 35th in the world.

Before his opening round at the recent US Open, Lowry had reeled off seven consecutive rounds in the 60s, and even after his initial disappointment at Pebble Beach, he rebounded strongly to make the cut and then finish tied 28th. 

“It’s probably the best I’ve been playing and definitely the best first half of a season I have had in my whole career,” Lowry said in Dublin today, as he was announced as a Paddy Power ambassador. 

My confidence is pretty high, and I need to check my expectations a little bit. Honestly, for the first round of the US Open, I was never as comfortable or as confident going out to play a round of golf. It is just trying to manage expectation for myself going down [to Lahinch] next week, and I think I will do alright.

Lowry’s memorable win in Abu Dhabi at the start of the year was his fourth career victory, but — with his wife Wendy and daughter Iris greenside — was his first in three-and-a-half years.

With a weight lifted off his shoulders, that week has been the catalyst and Lowry has steadily built the momentum through the season, although that’s not to say there hasn’t been peaks and troughs; missing the cut at the Masters was a low point. 

“I went through some bad form, but it wasn’t necessarily bad form,” he continues. “It was bad form for me, but it may have been good for other people. Golf is a funny game, and when things are not going your way, you just have to ride them out.

“When the good times come, you have to ride that wave as long as you can and really enjoy them because who knows what’s around the corner. I think sport, in general, is like that.

“If I did nothing this week and went down to Lahinch and didn’t perform, I can’t expect anything else. But as long as I do what I feel is right every day and what I feel is good for my golf game, I feel pretty good going to a tournament. 

THE CANADIAN PRESS 2019-06-08 Lowry has had an excellent first half to 2019. Source: Nathan Denette

“Have I changed anything? No. I just keep doing what I feel is right. As long as I get up in the morning and do what I feel is right for me, I am pretty happy with how I go about my business.”

As for Lahinch, and the challenge that awaits, Lowry just wants to enjoy the experience without putting too much pressure on himself, something the Clara man admits he has been guilty of in the past. To his detriment, he added. 

Since winning as an amateur in Baltray in 2009, Lowry’s Irish Open form has been largely consistent — he has missed just two cuts — but just one top-1o finish [T5 in 2013] has followed in the intervening years. How he’d love to improve on that next week.

“I have an awful record there in the South of Ireland Championships,” he laughs.

But I’m going to try and enjoy it as much as I can. It is just a stressful week. It is almost like a Major championship. Majors are just stressful weeks and it’s hard. You try and do your best to bring your A game into it and even though I brought my A game to the US Open, and I was feeling great going into it, you don’t perform to your best.

“Quite a few people are going to be there next week and I am going to try and enjoy it as much as I can. It’s a lovely part of the world, isn’t it? I just really, really hope we get some nice weather next week, because it would be a great Irish Open. It would probably be one of the great Irish Opens if we do.  

“I am looking forward to it and it’s probably one of the first Irish Opens I have looked forward to in a while.”

For now, Lowry is not letting himself think about replicating his County Louth exploits a decade on. He is keeping his feet firmly grounded, even if keen to ride the crest of this wave he currently finds himself on. 

“I don’t even want to try start explaining how unbelievable it would be for me to win next week,” Lowry adds. 

“I’m going to try not to think about it for the next 12 days. I’d love to just go there and give myself a chance. It would be great if one of us had a chance, whether it be Pádraig [Harrington], or G-Mac [Graeme McDowell], or Dunners [Paul Dunne], one of us.

“The tournament kind of almost deserves that. I hope it’s me.”

Shane Lowry is a Paddy Power Golf Ambassador and columnist with Paddy Power News.

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Ryan Bailey

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