Saturday 24 March 2018

Fans' favourite a class act inside the ropes and out

Shane Lowry holds the Gary Player Cup after winning the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday night GETTY
Shane Lowry holds the Gary Player Cup after winning the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday night GETTY
Vincent Hogan

Vincent Hogan

Some day soon Shane Lowry's going to have to stop this silliness of always smiling at the world and mistaking every fan for someone's parent, sibling or child.

He doesn't get it, does he? Lowry needs to understand that professional sport is Hollywood now and the celebrity it offers should deliver you to the personal bubble of a life behind ropes, darkened glass and the hopeless banality of corporate-speak.

Follow him on Twitter and you'll understand just how urgently he needs a tutorial in self-importance, a PhD in evasion. This is a guy who INVITES questions for pity's sake. Stuck in an airport departure lounge, his instinct isn't to clamp on giant headphones and shut out the squinting world. It's to open doors.

He did it last on August 2. "Have a half-hour to spare if anyone has any questions."

And, suddenly, in a rat-a-tat exchange, he's just Shane Lowry of Clara, Co Offaly again. Sports nut, GAA fan, big, grinning kid-next-door.

Joe Canning and Colm Cooper are his favourite current GAA players; Roy Keane and Brian Whelahan were his childhood heroes. Best moment outside golf? "I was in Croker for Offaly winning the All-Ireland in '98. Best day ever!"

Turns out he was also in Croker that same summer, sitting on the field in protest over Jimmy Cooney's early whistle during the second game with Clare. You watch these little stories unspool thinking how on earth can this be?

Here he is arrowing into the world's top 20 golfers now, yet Lowry seems as rooted as a great, hundred-year-old oak.

He palpably loves his Ma, Da and extended family. Brendan was, of course, a key figure on the Offaly football team that won the 1982 All-Ireland final against a five-in-a-row chasing, Kerry.

Now he's better known as a father whose sons won the Mullingar Scratch Cup and Bridgestone Invitational in the one week.

"If Brendie Lowry was a horse, he would be a stallion!" tweeted Shane after younger brother, Alan's, triumph in Mullingar.

It gets worse, by the way. He takes selfies (including one of himself, Alan and old Brendie watching Tipperary play Limerick in the Munster hurling Championship on a laptop the morning of his final round in this year's US Open).

He signs visors with a smile. He even talks to people while scribbling, as if seeing them as more than just semi-functioning blood-clots, taking up his time. He doesn't seem on speaking terms with any discernible ego.

So you feel stupid trying to second-guess what's going on in his head because he makes absolutely zero effort to conceal it.

Shane Lowry is no gym Nazi, we see that; he's not a teetotaler; he doesn't view life as the endless punching of a puritan's time-clock.

Some people take pot-shots at his physique and he's just too open, too honest to do the wise thing and press 'delete'.

On June 28, one brave chap upbraided him for a poor Sunday front nine at the BMW Open in Munich.

"How about some time in the gym this week and a visit to a good barber?" suggested the Tweeter rather caustically. "How about no!" responded Lowry. When Wise-Guy came a second-time, suggesting Lowry was "not doing your talent justice", that durable Offaly patience finally snapped.

"U don't know me or what I do on my weeks off so do me a favour pfo," he answered.

That, of course, is incidental when you live your life as openly as Shane Lowry. He doesn't mistake the job he does for a life in neurological science. "Pro golfer most of the time and having the Craic the rest of it," is the CV atop his Twitter page.

He may play golf with the courage of a matador and the touch of a concert pianist, but maybe the most beautiful thing about Shane Lowry is his refusal to become some kind of antiseptic corporate brand for whom life beyond the golf course is a 24/7 yawn.

The out-pouring of joy triggered by his victory in Akron last Sunday night reflected that. People don't just admire him, they like him. Here's hoping he doesn't change. Ever.

Irish Independent

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