Shane Lowry vows to keep flag flying as Major players tumble out of Irish Open
SHANE LOWRY pledged to give his all at Carton House this weekend to save the Irish Open from a 'Major' catastrophe.
In these recessionary times, the Irish Open relies on the public to vote with their feet and support the event in big-enough numbers to defray staging costs incurred by the European Tour and help convince the Government that €1.5m sponsorship through Failte Ireland is worthwhile.
With Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley also falling by the wayside, hopes that this year's tournament will top the desired 80,000 spectator threshold (more than 36,000 have already attended the first two days) rest squarely on Lowry's broad shoulders.
"Obviously, a few big Irish names have dropped out early, but, hopefully, I can give them something to cheer about at the weekend," said the Clara, Co Offaly, native.
Tied third overnight on seven-under, two behind joint leaders Robert Rock and Peter Uihlein, Lowry (26) would bring fans out in their droves if he set-up a repeat of his final-day showdown with Rock at Baltray in the 2009 Irish Open, which he sensationally won as an amateur.
"I'm desperate to do well in this tournament," added Lowry, now a Carton resident.
"I'd love nothing more than to contend this weekend.
"I've put myself in a great position now and am really looking forward to it."
"I suppose there's a bit of expectation, but you know, that's a good thing, isn't it.
"There's going to be a lot of people out here over the weekend and, hopefully, they will come out and support me and I'll do my best for them.
"I'm more confident on my home course here, comfortable with the surroundings, and, yeah, it's an advantage for me this week I think. So, I'm going to try and use that advantage," Lowry (right) explained.
He played with McIlroy as he tumbled out of the tournament on two-over after rounds of 74 and 72 ... yet Lowry observed: "I thought Rory played quite well today, certainly better than he did on Thursday."