Tuesday 6 December 2016

Lowry hoping to be lifted by rising tide of Irish sport

Published 15/06/2016 | 02:30

Lowry; “The good thing is, there’s no bluffers will win this week. It will take a good golfer to win this week,” Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Lowry; “The good thing is, there’s no bluffers will win this week. It will take a good golfer to win this week,” Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Shane Lowry's decision to put the FAI logo on his bag is a visible sign of his support for the Republic of Ireland soccer team in the Euro 2016 finals - and he hopes that the rising tide of Irish sport can lift his US Open challenge at Oakmont Country Club.

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Advertising space on a top professional golfer's bag is usually a prized and costly item, but this is a matter of patriotism for Lowry.

"I was talking with Conor (Ridge, his manager) last week and he said "what do you think? I said, yeah, why not? I think it would be cool. It looks deadly, I think," he said.

"If we'd won, the whole country would be in a serious buzz. At least it keeps us in the championship until next Wednesday, so we will be going out against Italy playing for something.

"When Ireland are going out playing for something, they can produce at certain times. Hopefully they can produce."

Lowry, a sports fanatic, was also buoyed by the success of the Irish U-20s rugby team in defeating New Zealand, and with the senior side's historic win in South Africa.

So much to enjoy for Lowry, who would love to give the country something to cheer in the 116th US Open at the course they call the toughest in America.

Blazed

Yesterday the sun blazed on the practice range at Oakmont as Lowry took time out to discuss the intriguing and multi-faceted examination of golf set by the USGA for the top players in the world.

"The good thing is, there's no bluffers will win this week. It will take a good golfer to win this week," was his summing up.

Winning will take a combination of the patience of Job, the relentless optimism of positive thinking guru Tony Robbins to bounce back from the inevitable disaster hole, and good decision-making under constant pressure for four rounds.

That, and very good golf, most of all on the treacherous, cunningly sloped greens that will be set to run very fast.

So yes, we can all agree with Lowry that no bluffer or lucky golfer will win this championship.

"They're some of the best greens I've ever seen, but they're some of the quickest. They're quicker than Augusta," he said.

Lowry arrived on Sunday and got straight down to the business of familiarising himself with his surroundings.

"I came out Sunday and played five holes, ten to 14," he said.

"I played nine yesterday morning, and five in the afternoon. I've played quite a bit so far, and it's fairly brutal. It's living up to its reputation."

Birdies will be highly prized, but par is the golfer's friend for this week. Bogeys can be good too.

"Sitting back, it is hard to see where you are going to make any birdies," said Lowry.

"Hopefully you make a couple a day. If you make two a day you are doing well.

"If you make ten for the week, you have got a right chance of winning the tournament.

"You have to keep the doubles off your card and stuff like that, but if you're making ten birdies you're playing okay."

Oakmont's reputation as a beast has stood the test of time, right from the very first US Open held here in 1927.

The average winning score in the eight previous stagings, including 2007 when Angel Cabrera won it, is 286.

Par was 72 for the first four (1927, '35, '53 and '62); it moved to 71 for '73, '83 and '94; and was 70 in '07.

A 286 this week - with the par still 70 - would not be too far away on Sunday. Lowry will try to keep a steady hand on the tiller.

"There's a fine line between too aggressive and not being aggressive enough," he said.

"You need to really approach the golf course with a bit of care.

"If you're too tentative, you're leaving yourself too long into greens. Forty-footers are not much craic on these greens."

Irish Independent

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