Lowry: I will look Rory in the eye on the first tee and know I can beat him
IT'S 'Paddy's Day' in the Arizona Desert as four golfers today give the Accenture Match Play World Championship a special all-Ireland flavour.
Shane Lowry tops the bill in a match with his friend Rory McIlroy which has captured the imagination of the sporting public in the US and at home.
Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington meet in another fascinating first-round encounter at the Ritz-Carlton Resort.
But for Lowry (25), pulling off a surprise match play win against world No 1 McIlroy would be "one of the great stories of my career so far".
Lowry is delighted to be facing McIlroy, not Tiger Woods, as last week seemed likely. "I've never met Tiger and he's been a hero of mine, so that would've been daunting," Lowry said. "This isn't going to be an easier match but I can stand on that first tee, look Rory in the face and know I've a good chance of beating him."
The Clara man chuckled when he was asked if he and McIlroy had any similarities. "I used to have curly hair," he shrugged. "I don't think there's many, to be honest. Actually, I don't know if there's any ... Rory plays golf!"
McIlroy was a prodigy as a toddler, while Lowry took up the sport seriously only in his early teens, so he has a little catching up to do on his former Irish amateur team-mate.
Yet today's match could be tight.
"It's match play," world No 66 Lowry said. "Whoever holes the putts is key. From 15 feet and in is going to be vital. Hole a few at the right time and maybe I can put Rory under some pressure.
"I've always known Rory would become the best golfer in the world and I'm really buzzing about this match. Yet I've nothing to lose. Very few people expect me to win but I'll be gunning for it."