Wednesday 20 February 2019

Lowry: I hope 'grittiest' round will stand to me

Shane Lowry celebrates with the trophy after his Abu Dhabi Championship victory. Photo: AP
Shane Lowry celebrates with the trophy after his Abu Dhabi Championship victory. Photo: AP

Brian Keogh

Shane Lowry banked much more than a cheque for €1.04 million in the Arabian Desert on Saturday - he rediscovered his confidence and stashed some away for Major days to come.

The popular Offaly man (31) was congratulated by dozens of players, caddies and officials as he got back to work yesterday for this week's Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

But even more satisfying than that feeling that comes with a job well done, he knows that his epic final-round fightback to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship could prove invaluable on golf's biggest stages.

Seconds after seeing off Richard Sterne, he told Sky Sports: "I completely thought I was gone, I didn't think I had that in me today."

But even 48 hours later, the enormity of his achievement was just dawning on him.

"If you look at where I got to during the round, I had to dig very deep," he reflected. "I had to go right the bottom of the well for that one.

"The way I dug it out of the bag, I'd say it was probably the grittiest, most-determined round of golf of my career.

"Obviously, Richard made a couple of mistakes near the end of the round, and if he didn't, we wouldn't be sitting here talking. But I felt I put the right pressure on him at the right times and did all the right things.

"It's been a bit surreal the last 48 hours. I find myself pinching myself every now, thinking 'wow, I've finally won another tournament,' and I am just so happy and so chuffed the girls were there to see it."

What gave Lowry even more satisfaction was the knowledge that he hadn't lost his stomach for battle and that's going to be invaluable if he has chances to win Majors in the future.

"Obviously I think it will stand to me," said Lowry, who will skip next week's inaugural Saudi International before heading back out to partner Gerry McManus in the AT&T Pro-Am and spend time with Ryder Cup skipper Pádraig Harrington.

"I will always be able to go back there when I am in a tough situation or in the lead or around the lead with a few holes to go in a big event.

"I have always said I don't think I am the type of player that can just focus on the Majors. I have plenty of big tournaments between now and the Masters and the PGA and I want to focus on first things first.

"There is no doubt there have been times when you do doubt yourself. But after what I did on Saturday I have a lot of confidence back.

"It started coming at the back end of last season when I had a good chance to win in Valderrama, a decent chance in Portugal.

"I was there or thereabouts, and I felt like I was getting back to me. Little did I know I would knock one off straight away.

"But when it comes to the Majors, I am going to go out there and give it my best, and if I get to the back nine on Sunday with a chance, I will be able to give it a good go and see what happens.

"I know if I play my good golf, it doesn't have to be my best golf, I will shoot a decent score. And then when it comes to Majors you just have to go out and play your good golf. It doesn't need to be spectacular."

While he's trying to be patient and take things in his stride, no matter how he plays, making Harrington's European team is his big goal, and that means scaling the world rankings.

After all, the last European to qualify automatically for a Ryder Cup when ranked outside the world's top 50 was Paul McGinley at The K Club in 2006.

"The standard of golf is so good, and there are so many good European players, you are not making the Ryder Cup team from too far out of the top 30 in the world," Lowry said.

"I am not going to shy away from it. Making that team is my main goal for the next 18 months, and Saturday was a good springboard to achieving that."

Irish Independent

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