Shane Lowry has no fear of competing with world's elite in race to secure Claret Jug
Shane Lowry is ready to face down the top golfers in the world if he gets into contention for the 144th Open Championship which starts at St Andrews today.
Lowry, 28, cautions against excessive expectation on the part of Irish golf fans, but acknowledges that he has the self-belief and the love of links golf to make a serious challenge.
A tied-ninth finish in the Open at Hoylake last year and a similar end to the US Open at Chambers Bay indicate how comfortable Lowry now feels at this level.
"I think we're getting ahead of ourselves there again talking about winning Majors.
"But do I feel like I can compete this week? Yeah, sure why not?
"If I give myself a chance to win it on Sunday afternoon, I know I've got what it takes to win it down the stretch.
"There's no more I can say. Do I feel like I'm one of the best players in the world? At the minute, yeah, my game feels good.
"I feel like I've never played as well, and I've never been as good mentally," he said.
Lowry has been backed down to 50/1, with tournament favourite Jordan Spieth at 6/1.
Ireland's Major winners -Graeme McDowell, Pádraig Harrington and Darren Clarke - are all rated at over 100/1 by the bookmakers.
That only serves to inspire McDowell.
"Come on the Irish. It represents good value," he said on the eve of golf's oldest Major.