Lowry heads Irish hopes in top-class Scottish field
Bonnie Scotland presents prime links fare to the world's elite golfers, starting with the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Gullane today as the appetiser for the banquet which takes place at St Andrews next week.
And though it's tempting for punters to see the Scottish Open as a chance for some shadow boxing on links ahead of the Big Yin next week, Shane Lowry takes a different view.
The World No 46 is the form Irish player at present, and will accord the Scottish event every respect.
Mind you, there are many reasons to do so, not least the €4.85m prize fund with €748,661 to the winner, plus a stack of world ranking points due to the quality of the field, even without injured Rory McIlroy.
Lowry followed his tied-ninth finish in the US Open at Chambers Bay with a 29th placing in the BMW International in Munich the following week.
A week off, during which he tuned up his links game at Portmarnock (Old) and Doonbeg, refreshed Lowry for Gullane and St Andrews.
"I feel like I'm playing well, I've played all right the couple of times I played last week," he said. "I felt like I did play alright in Germany, I was just a little bit fatigued at times and made a few silly mistakes," he said.
"Scotland's a massive tournament, there's a lot of big players playing and world ranking points available, and a lot of Race To Dubai money available as well."
The Offaly native has every right to feel confident about his chances of making an impact over the next few days, but his fellow Irishmen need to find some inspiration and form.
Padraig Harrington is one of eight Major winners in the tournament, and missed the cut in his last two events. Graeme McDowell failed to reach the weekend in his last three outings, including the US Open.
Michael Hoey, Paul McGinley and Damien McGrane will need a good start today to give themselves a chance of earning a decent cheque this week.
The opposition is formidable, headed by 2014 champion Justin Rose, and five-times Major winner Phil Mickelson plus in-form South African Branden Grace and Americans Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, Matt Kuchar and Jimmy Walker.
Of the Irish in the field at Gullane, only Lowry, Harrington and McDowell will play at St Andrews. They will be joined by Darren Clarke, who takes this week off, and amateur international Paul Dunne.
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