Sport Golf

Wednesday 27 March 2019

Lowry backs his pal but opts out of friendly kickabouts

Irish golfer Shane Lowry in jovial mood at Greystones Golf Club yesterday (Sportsfile)
Irish golfer Shane Lowry in jovial mood at Greystones Golf Club yesterday (Sportsfile)

Liam Kelly

Shane Lowry won't join the chorus of condemnation levelled at Rory McIlroy for injuring himself in a soccer kickabout with his friends - but he has no plans to indulge in the big-ball game any time soon.

Lowry, 28, is a huge sports fan and with his Gaelic football heritage from All-Ireland-winning dad Brendan and his uncles, he loves to watch a good match in any code.

He does admit to bringing a - whisper it - rugby ball with him on golf trips, and even an O'Neill's football, but that's where he draws the line.

"At a tournament, me and Neil (Manchip, his coach) always bring a rugby ball. We might even bring an O'Neill's, but I wouldn't play any matches with my friends, like a weekly five-a-side. No chance," he says.

Part of that decision is Lowry's own experience of being sidelined because of a wrist injury he suffered in December 2011.


That cost him a four-month absence from tournament play and he will do all he can to avoid a repeat injury.

Lowry does, however, feel sympathy for Rory McIlroy and appreciates that his pal will be getting some stick for taking what many would see as an unjustifiable risk given the time of year and the huge tournaments to come.

"If you get injured, no matter what you're doing, it's not ideal, you're just there, and you just have to work towards a date. That's what I did when I was injured.

"Obviously he was out playing football with his mates.

"It's something that some people will say he shouldn't be doing but I'm one that says if he wants to do it, if he enjoys doing it, what's wrong with that?

"Obviously his career's suffering now because of it, but it's not the end of the world. No one's after dying," said Lowry.

They say sportsmen live in their own little bubble but Lowry has a broad perspective on life, particularly after the Berkeley balcony tragedy which claimed the lives of six students and injured seven others.

The Offaly man wore black through the four days of the US Open as a sign of mourning for the students and their families.

Lowry alluded to that tragedy when he discussed McIlroy's situation, and there can be no arguments that by comparison, the ankle injury is a minor setback, albeit newsworthy in golf circles.

On the career front, Lowry also takes a balanced view, and wants to call a halt to speculation in relation to his prospects of winning a Major championship.

A tied-ninth finish in the recent US Open at Chambers Bay and a similar position in last year's Open Championship at Hoylake represents significant progress in his six years as a tournament professional.

Encouraging as it is, for Lowry the stats are not enough to justify a growing sentiment that a Major breakthrough is imminent.

He plays the Scottish Open at Gullane this week and looks forward to the Open at St Andrews next week with reasonable optimism, but said: "I'm definitely not at the stage in my career where I have an eye on Majors.

"I think people are getting very carried away, so I think this talk about me winning Majors has to stop.

"I've finished ninth twice in two Majors, I've only played in 10 Majors and St Andrews will be my 11th. I'm still at an early stage in my Majors career but I'm not saying I can't go and win it. I definitely can go and win it.

"I don't mind people talking about it, I just won't listen to it."

Therein lies a mixture of self-confidence and realism.

Lowry tasted success in the 2009 Irish Open which he won as an amateur and again in the 2012 Portugal Masters.

He admits he wants to win a tournament soon, and despite his happy-go-lucky outer demeanour, inside there's a warrior filled with a desire to plunder all before him.

"Well, there's nothing like winning. It's been a while since I had that feeling.


"I get jealous of other guys winning. I'm really desperate to win again myself, but I think I'm at the stage now where, OK, I'm desperate to win, but I feel I'm not putting that extra pressure on myself that's stopping me from winning," he said.

At 46th in the world rankings and 23 on the Race To Dubai, Lowry has a platform to make a big impression on both sides of the Atlantic.

First on the agenda is the Scottish Open at Gullane which hosts a star-studded field including Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Pádraig Harrington, and Graeme McDowell.

Lowry's focus is on contending for the title there and leaving St Andrews on the back burner until Monday.

"Scotland's a massive tournament, there's a lot of big players playing and world ranking points available, and a lot of Race To Dubai money available as well," he said.

Shane Lowry is a Brand Ambassador for Heatons Group under the Kartel banner

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