Lowry: Abu Dhabi win means the world to me
Shane Lowry admits that he can't afford to rest on his laurels and must draw confidence from his brilliant victory in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and relentlessly chase his golfing dreams.
The popular Offaly man (31) was thrilled with the "bottle" he showed down the stretch as he snatched the title from Richard Sterne in the desert on Saturday and banished any lingering doubts created by the brutal disappointment of his 2016 US Open reverse.
He admitted that thoughts of losing his four-shot final-round lead in Pittsburgh were still on his mind before Saturday's final round.
But he quickly dismissed them to clinch what could be a career-changing win and readily admitted that he cannot afford to stop dreaming now.
"I still have a goal in my head I'm working towards every day and just because I won this doesn't mean I can take my foot off the gas," he said of his well-signalled ambitions to make Pádraig Harrington's 2020 European Ryder Cup team.
"It's a great stepping stone, no doubt because I'm back in the big tournaments now for the foreseeable future and hopefully I can kick on from here and move back up the World Rankings where I feel like I really belong."
Harrington was one of the first to hail Lowry's wire-to-wire win which will catapult him from 75th to around 40th in the world today.
"Brilliant by Shane, a win in the toughest possible way, pillar to post," Harrington tweeted. "Back where he needs to be."
It wasn't that Lowry left 14 of the world's top 50 in his wake in Abu Dhabi but that he didn't throw in the towel after seeing his three-shot lead turn into a four-shot deficit with just seven holes to play - exactly the mindset he'll need to contend in the Masters, the US PGA at Bethpage Black, the US Open at Pebble Beach or The Open at Royal Portrush.
"The one thing I got from Oakmont is that I laid down and I didn't show any fight or bottle there," Lowry said of his final-round 76 in Pittsburgh. "And I did that today.
"I felt after the 11th hole, I was getting myself in the same situation that I got myself in at Oakmont. I genuinely thought that.
"But I kind of had a quick word with myself and told myself that, you know, just kick on now and just see what I can do for the next six or seven holes."
Speaking to RTÉ Radio shortly after his win, he eloquently summed up what it took to avoid more heartache.
"I think I showed great guts and courage and determination today," he said.
"Losing my card in America (last year) and not playing so well for a few years has been difficult, but I am just very happy to be back with a win. God, it means the world to me."
Returning to the world's top 50 means he will be exempt for the upcoming WGC Mexico Championship and the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play and if he's still in the top 50 on March 31, he can also pencil Augusta National and the Masters into his diary.
"Obviously it was a blessing in disguise," he said of losing his US card, which meant he was in Abu Dhabi rather than preparing to start his season at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines next week.
"I just think it's going to give me confidence and I need to build on that. I just need to kick on now for the rest of the year and see where it leaves me".
Meanwhile, Seamus Power has work to do to get his season back on track after he missed his fifth cut in a row and his sixth in seven PGA Tour starts this season at the Desert Classic in California.
The West Waterford man (31) missed the nine-under-par cut by 11 strokes after a third-round 71 at La Quinta's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course and joins Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy at Torrey Pines for this week's Farmers Insurance Open battling to find form.