Monday 16 September 2019

Lowry aiming to 'ride wave' in Lahinch Irish Open

Paddy Power golf ambassador Shane Lowry aims to make his mark on Lahinch. Photo: Sharppix
Paddy Power golf ambassador Shane Lowry aims to make his mark on Lahinch. Photo: Sharppix

Brian Keogh

Lahinch is Ireland's unofficial surfing capital and Shane Lowry is determined to "ride the wave" of stellar form into the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and record the first two-win season of his career.

The Clara man is arguably in the best frame of mind he's ever been since he won the Irish Open in 2009 - so good that all that worries him about next week are the vagaries of the weather and his own high hopes.

"It's probably the best I've been playing and definitely the best first half of a season I have had in my whole career," Lowry said in his capacity as a Paddy Power Golf Ambassador.

"My confidence is pretty high and I need to check my expectations a little bit."

He's been on the crest of a wave since he ended his three-and-a-half year victory drought in Abu Dhabi in January and while there have been a few wipeouts, such as his opening 78 in the Masters, he's never felt as comfortable or confident.

There was a time when he'd have been devastated by the opening 75s he shot in the US PGA and the US Open - rounds, he insists, that are not indicative of a trend.

But he's in such a good place mentally that he's been able to follow each of them with three sub-par scores, finishing tied eighth at Bethpage Black and joint 28th at Pebble Beach.

"Honestly, for the first round of the US Open I was never as comfortable or as confident going out to play a round of golf," he said. "It is just trying to manage expectation for myself going down next week, and I think I will do alright."

He has that freewheeling feeling that Rory McIlroy has been seeking all year and poor rounds that might have plunged him into the depths of despair before are now water off a duck's back.

"I'm almost playing like I don't care," Lowry said of his zen-like calm he now feels. "Obviously I do care a lot. Yes, I was disappointed after the first round of the US Open. But, you know what, it is not the end of the world.

"Twelve months ago, you have a bad first round and you are on the range afterwards, beating balls, trying to find something.

"I do feel like I am playing with a lot of confidence at the minute and if I shoot a bad score today I am going to shoot a good score tomorrow, that makes it a whole lot easier.

"When you are freewheeling and playing well, you might miss a green and make a bogey but you are not too disappointed with yourself. You move on a bit quicker.

Helped

"To be honest, I think my caddie 'Bo' has been a great help for that. He is such a chilled out character, he is such a great help to me on the course. I really feel like he has helped me over the last while and relaxed me a little bit more than I used to be."

Bagman Brian Martin won't be in Lahinch as his wife is expecting a baby next Monday. But Lowry is looking forward to having pal Dara Lernihan, now the Bray Golf Club professional, caddie in Co Clare.

"I caddied for him in Irish PGA at Roganstown," Lowry said, grinning. "Hopefully, I do better than he did in that!"

Unlike Pádraig Harrington, he doesn't want to delve too deeply into the reasons why it's all going so well, though good putting has been key.

"It's a funny game, I just have to keep going as long as I can and ride that wave," he said, admitting that he's too superstitious to tinker with a good thing. "It is one of those things. If you knew what it was you would obviously bottle it and sell it. I go to the range the same time, carry the same stuff in my pockets, stupid stuff."

He'll head for Royal Portrush tomorrow to practice for The Open, then travel to Portlaoise on Saturday for Offaly's All Ireland Football clash with Laois having thoroughly enjoyed their 3-17 to 0-15 hammering of Sligo.

"It was the first time I felt what it was like to be a Dubs supporter, the match is over after 50 minutes," he joked. "I didn't know what to do. I can't remember the last time I left Tullamore happy!"

The only thing that would make him happier than Sam Maguire returning to the Faithful County would be a second Irish Open win.

"I don't even want to try to start explaining how unbelievable it would be for me to win next week so I going to try not to think about for the next 12 days," he said.

Irish Independent

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