Friday 22 September 2017

Lowry hoping fitness drive gives him lift-off

Karl MacGinty

THE glory of Shane Lowry is that he remains so ordinary, despite his extraordinary sporting talent – and to the Clara man's further credit, he places a premium on friendship.

Lowry insists that the bitter legal battle between Rory McIlroy and management company Horizon has not coloured his relationship with the beleaguered world No 6.

Asked if the dispute had caused any awkwardness with his former Horizon stablemate and foursomes partner on the Irish amateur team, Lowry replied: "No, not at all."

"I have fully refused to make any comment on this since it all started, and I'm not going to now," added Lowry, who, like Graeme McDowell, remains a very satisfied customer at Horizon.

"Me and Rory are just the same. I hung out with him a bit in Shanghai a couple of weeks ago and it's all good."

In a recent radio interview with RTE, Lowry summed up his philosophy by saying: "I'm just a normal fella who happens to be good at golf.

"I do enjoy myself; I do hang around with my friends and go for a few pints with the lads – I just think I'm better now at choosing the times to do it."

Lowry certainly looks different these days, a little more lean and, in the competitive sense, somewhat harder.

PUMPING

Okay, you'll not find him spotting for Tiger Woods or McIlroy in the gym. Lowry is too comfortable in his own skin to feel the need to go pumping iron with the body-building brigade.

However, at 26, he's opened a new chapter in his sporting life – introducing a code of discipline and a modest personal fitness programme aimed at boosting his performance and prolonging his career on Tour.

Lowry's Christmas break this year, for example, will feature as much sweat and toil as Yuletide cheer. "I've five weeks off, which in the past I've never really used properly," he said. "I've a plan in place for the whole month of December and you'll see me coming out in January with all guns blazing."

Lowry doesn't like using the 'F' word. "I get questioned quite a lot about fitness and stuff like that and don't like it being documented too much," he admitted. "But I'll do a little bit on that next month, then go away maybe for a week in mid-December with Neil (Manchip, his coach) and do a bit of practice. I'll just be a bit more disciplined than I've been in recent years."

Lowry "never bought into" the gym craze which gripped golf in the Tiger era, but now appreciates the importance of getting in trim. "This year I got a couple of niggles in my hip," he revealed. "And if I'm getting those niggles at 26, what am I going to be like at 36 or 46? So I feel I need to do something about it, more to extend my career than anything else. It's just about feeling good about myself and prolonging my career. It's not about getting into great shape – I've never thought that way and won't start now."

A popular figure on Tour, Lowry has taken stick on the practice range at this week's Turkish Open as he tries to sprout a moustache in support of Movember.

"I've been told if I gave it a good wash it'd come off," he quipped, laughing out loud at a suggestion he might rival Padraig Harrington's impressive 'Fu Manchu' effort, adding: "It'd take me about four years to grow that."

For all his wit and country charm, Lowry has become such a serious and consistent competitor on Tour, he enters the massive final three events of his season, the Turkish Open, DP World Championship in Dubai and World Cup in Melbourne, thinking he can win.

In the absence of McDowell, spending this week at home in Florida with new wife Kristin, Lowry is the best-placed Irishman (at No 33) in the Race to Dubai entered for this week's event.

World No 1 Woods is widely fancied to steal the thunder of leading Race to Dubai protagonists Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter and Justin Rose, but if Lowry gets his trusty driver back on line, he could pull off a shock on Sunday. Harrington needs to finish in the top 11 to clinch a place in Europe's showpiece finale in Dubai.

Across the Atlantic, Darren Clarke tees it up at the McGladrey Classic today as a full-time member of the US Tour for the first time since 2004.

The Turkish Airlines Open,

Live, Sky Sports 4, 9.0am

The McGladrey Classic,

Live, Sky Sports 4, 6.0pm

Irish Independent

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