Saturday 21 January 2017

Hold the back page - Small-town hero always a bit GAA

Published 16/08/2015 | 17:00

Shane Lowry: Hero and standard bearer
Shane Lowry: Hero and standard bearer

Why does everyone love Shane Lowry? More precisely, why did his win in the Bridgestone Invitational touch a deeper chord with many of us than some of the Major victories in this golden era for Irish golf?

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Perhaps it's because when he found himself in the trees at the 18th hole while holding just a single-shot lead over Bubba Watson - feeling, he revealed later, more nervous than he'd ever been before - the conversation between Lowry and his caddy, Dermot Byrne, had the apparently casual quality of two lads deciding they'd get this round out of the way and get back to work.

The smile which spread over the Offaly man's face as he walked towards the 18th green and heard himself announced as 'Seán' Lowry also encapsulated what makes him so appealing. Shane Lowry makes golf seem like fun, deadly serious though the pro game may be.

And that's why, above all, he is the hero and the standard bearer for the myriad players in small-town clubs all over the country, the kind of clubs which no golf tourist ever has marked on his bucket list. They're often guys who work with their hands and their experience of golf is miles away from that of the members of the big suburban clubs, with their somewhat snooty traditions and huge fees.

Lowry's deceptively casual attitude means they see him as one of their own. He's not quite, he did earn $1.57m for playing a few rounds last week. But in a world of golfers who've learned the game in mega-expensive country clubs, Shane Lowry is something refreshingly different.

The Firestone announcer accidentally summed up one essential thing about Lowry, which is that a lot of his fans are people, like myself, who'll never quite be able to get the picture of an Offaly jersey out of our head when we hear his name.

Shane Lowry will always be a bit GAA. And I mean that as a big, big compliment.

Sunday Indo Sport

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