Sunday 26 May 2019

Lowry: I don't want to be acting the maggot, but just enjoy what I do

Tiger Woods shares a joke with his caddie Joe LaCava during a practice round at Bethpage GC yesterday. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images
Tiger Woods shares a joke with his caddie Joe LaCava during a practice round at Bethpage GC yesterday. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Bethpage Black comes with a health warning for hackers but it was a tonic for Shane Lowry as he began his preparations for this week's US PGA and his 25th Major start.

The Offaly man (32) played 11 holes with Rory McIlroy - including the last four with world No 1 Dustin Johnson in tow - and ambled off with a grin as wide as Clara Bog.

Despite the drizzle and 7C temperature that made Bethpage feel more like the West of Ireland than the US PGA, Lowry loved what he saw and hopes he can take his laid-back attitude to life to the golf course from now on.

"You wouldn't sleep in your car to play it, would you?" he joked in reference to the thousands of ordinary amateurs that queue up for the chance to suffer indescribable golfing pain on a 7,400-yard par-70 that's XL in every way.

"It's a big boys' course. God, you really have to golf your ball around there," he said. "But I have to say it's a good course and I like it a lot. It's one of those courses where you try to hit it in the fairway, and if you don't hit it in the fairway, you have to just try to get her back in position.

"It's all right there in front of you and I can't believe what good condition it's in considering the weather."

Masochistic amateurs queue up from dawn to play Bethpage Black and snap for selfies beside the first tee placard that says, 'WARNING, The Black Course Is An Extremely Difficult Course Which We Recommend Only For Highly Skilled Golfers."

Lowry is not worried about its length but the six inches between his own ears, so keen is he to avoid any self-flagellation.

Having accepted that being a streaky player is no bad thing, the world number 45 reminds himself that he's made enough world ranking points this year to be 18th - the beauty of sandwiching a win in Abu Dhabi and a third-place finish at Hilton Head between four missed cuts.

"The season has been up and down, but you are better off being like that than making every cut and only finishing 20th," he said. "I've missed quite a few cuts, but I have a win and a third and I am doing alright.

"It looks like my best ever start to a season even though it's not. You are better off being erratic and winning, like that Swedish kid (Marcus Kinhult) at the British Masters."

He's concluded with coach Neil Manchip and caddie Brian "Bo" Martin that he's at his best when he keeps things light.

"It's like I said after I took on Bo last year," Lowry said of the mindset that works for him. "I just want someone to be there that I can get on with and have a bit of craic and just go and play golf. I don't mean acting the maggot, but just enjoy what I do.

"I won in Abu Dhabi, and then I started getting uptight about the world rankings and getting in certain events. So after the Masters, we said, you know what, let's just try and enjoy our golf a little more. And that's what I did the week afterwards at Hilton Head and look what happened there."

Meanwhile, the Challenge Tour will stage the inaugural ISPS HANDA World Invitational Men | Women at Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort and Massereene Golf Club from August 15-18.

Formerly known as the NI Open, the likes of Michael Hoey and Australia's Richard Green will compete alongside women like Leona and Lisa Maguire and Stephanie Meadow for an equal share of the $500,000 prize fund.

Irish Independent

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