Tuesday 24 April 2018

'I was struggling to find interest to go and practise' - Honest Shane Lowry pinpoints why his form has slumped

Shane Lowry believes he can compete in the season’s final Major if his short game clicks at Quail Hollow. Photo: Getty Images
Shane Lowry believes he can compete in the season’s final Major if his short game clicks at Quail Hollow. Photo: Getty Images

Brian Keogh in Charlotte

'Frustrated', 'disheartened' and 'angry' are not words you'd normally associate with Shane Lowry but after slipping out of the world's top 50 the Offaly man plans to move his family to the US next year in an attempt to get his career back on track.

Exactly two years ago, the Clara man came to the US PGA riding the crest of wave following his breakthrough PGA Tour win in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, rising as high as 18th in the world.

This week, he arrived in Charlotte as the world No 83 and forced to sit out the trip to Akron and "disheartened" with the game and the difficulty of playing on both sides of the pond, he was so depressed after missing the cut in The Open and the RBC Canadian Open that he sought a face-to-face chat with mental coach Gerry Hussey to get himself up for this week's Major challenge.

Even Pádraig Harrington admitted this week that he is asking himself exactly why he is still playing both tours, but for 30-year-old Lowry to fall to such a low is disturbing and he's taken action to redress the situation.

"Playing both tours has been very hard on me these last few years and I feel like that has been my downfall to be honest," he said at Quail Hollow.

"I may as well be honest with you, but it has been too hard for me. It has been too hard to keep my World Ranking and you end up not being in all the big tournaments."

Lowry took up PGA Tour membership when he captured the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational two years ago but having falling out of the world's Top 50 last January, the harsh reality of his situation hit home when he was forced to watch the action in Akron on TV last week.

Announcing plans to move to Florida with his wife Wendy and baby daughter, Iris, he said: "Not playing in Akron last week was tough, especially after winning the event such a short time ago.

"But I have plans to move to America for a few months next year. So, I am going to concentrate full time on the PGA Tour next year and see what happens after that.

I think we are going rent a place in Palm Beach Gardens in Florida. I have been travelling too much and I have not seen enough of the girls and to have them with me most of the time will be nice. We are very lucky we have the chance to live in a nice place with nice weather and some good golf, and I wont have to deal with jet lag as much so that it is the plan.

"I spoke to (my caddie) Dermot about it last week and my main goal between now and December is to get back into the top 50 in the world and to do that I am going to have to play in Europe for most of the rest of the year.

"Wendy is very supportive and she will go with what I feel is the right thing. Of course, if we are there a few months and she does not like it then we will move but I am sure she will."

While he's exempt in the US until the end of next year, he's ranked 146th in the FedEx Cup Points standings with only the top 125 after next week's Wyndham Championship making the Playoffs.

"I feel like I am going chasing it a bit this week," he said of the urgency of his situation.

"I left Canada a couple of weeks ago very disheartened with my whole game and I was struggling to find interest to go and practise.

"I was pretty down about the whole thing because I feel like I had been going well going into The Open and all of a sudden at The Open and Canada, two bad weeks, and I feel like my summer is almost behind me.

"So I took some time to reflect last week and I am going to give it my best. If I can sharpen up my short game a little bit I can do okay."

Lowry has played 48 events worldwide since he won in Akron in 2015, missing 14 cuts and notching just five top 10s.

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One of those was a runner-up finish to Dustin Johnson in last year's US Open at Oakmont but rather than acting as a springboard to further success, that disappointment appears to have sapped much of Lowry's self-confidence.

Lacking his usual sharpness around the greens and struggling with the occasional pull off the tee, he's recorded just one top-10 finish since then - a share of sixth in the BMW PGA at Wentworth last May.

It's little wonder he sought out mental coach Hussey last Friday for a heart-to-heart, confessing that he came away feeling great again and "ready to compete."

While some players are too hard on themselves, Lowry believes he needs to be even more self-critical so he can get those competitive juices flowing.

"If anything, I think I have not been hard enough on myself," he ventured. "I can be too hard on myself at times and I do need to get that fire back in my belly, and get that bit of anger out every now and then.

"There is no harm in that and that is the kind of person I am. I am not saying that I am going to be going mad each week but there is no harm showing that I care and that I really want to do well."

A big result this week could do wonders for Lowry's season and while he believes he can compete if his short game clicks, he insisted he's not a man who lives and dies by his performances in the Majors.

"I am not one of these players that base my year around the Majors and while there is a few players that do, for me and other guys in the same position as me, I do not think we come here with that feeling," he said.

Believing things can change quickly, he said: "Golf is such a funny game… You are only ever a couple of swings or a couple of putts away and your whole week or your whole year turns around."

  • US PGA Championship, Live, BBC 2 11.15pm/eir Sport 6pm

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