Friday 24 November 2017

Lowry cranks up pressure on Irish players and declares 'one of us must contend'

Shane Lowry. Picture: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Shane Lowry. Picture: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Karl MacGinty

GOLF fans are expected to extend 100,000 welcomes to the Irish Open at Carton House this week as Rory McIlroy and the nation's other elite professionals serve up a real treat on the Montgomerie Course.

Carton House resident Shane Lowry, his confidence absolutely soaring after last Sunday's sizzling 65 in the final round of the BMW International in Munich, knows how critical the performance of the home team will be in drawing a bumper crowd.

"I think it's important one of us is contending at the weekend, to be honest," said the Clara native.

"If several Irish players put themselves in with a chance on Saturday and Sunday, the crowds will come out in droves. That's vital this week."

"We definitely need an Irish player up there. I know for a fact if I'd a chance of winning, we'd definitely get a few thousand more from home. I'll give it my best shot."

Lowry, now 26, brought massive crowds to Baltray in 2009 to witness his sensational Irish Open victory as an amateur. Now a two-time winner on the European Tour and proud to represent Carton on the professional fairways, he's vastly more experienced.

It'll help him deal with pressure which, to varying degrees, will focus on all 27 Irish players in this week's 156-man field, including Kerry's Mark Murphy, who along with Swede Peter Hedblom, received the final two sponsor's invites yesterday.

"I've been through it before," said Lowry. "There's going to be big crowds and I'll be in demand but that's a good thing. I'll give everyone what they want. Sure, it's just one week in the year.

"When I get inside those ropes on Thursday and Friday, that'll be my peace and quiet," he added. Lowry's slipped to world No 87 during a fruitless pursuit of his card in the US, but he will be relishing resuming the chase for his place in the elite top 50 in the upcoming Scottish and British Opens, the Bridgestone World Golf Championship and the US PGA.

European Tour commercial director James Finnigan is confident crowds will top six figures this week: "Certainly, I'd be disappointed if we came to Sunday night and didn't have at least 100,000 people through the gates."

Irish Independent

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