Monday 19 August 2019

€1.7m man: Shane Lowry places trust in those closest to him - and it pays off

'My coach always said I'd win a major. At least one,' says smiling Irishman

Celebrations: Shane Lowry with parents, Bridget and Brendan. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Celebrations: Shane Lowry with parents, Bridget and Brendan. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Vincent Hogan

Vincent Hogan

It was just after half eight yesterday morning when Lowry's coach Neil Manchip stood in the Spar shop in Bushmills, picking his way through the sports supplements of the Sunday newspapers, oblivious to the bemused gaze of the cashier.

Manchip's instinct has always been to be protective of Shane Lowry, ever since their collaboration began nearly 15 years ago.

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The Scot first noticed Lowry at The Island in May of '05, a breezy, bespectacled 18-year-old playing in a trial prior to selection for the European Boys' Championship.

Their relationship today runs deeper than tutor and student.

Lowry, now just the fifth Irishman to be crowned Open champion, says of Manchip, "he knows everything there is to know about me".

It is an alliance that reached its emotional apogee at the 18th green of Royal Portrush's links. And there too, fellow professionals Graeme McDowell, Pádraig Harrington and Gary Murphy.

Shane Lowry winning the Leinster Boys Amateur Open Championship in 2005
Shane Lowry winning the Leinster Boys Amateur Open Championship in 2005

Lowry's bond with Harrington especially - winner of this tournament in '07 and '08 - runs deep now.

It is a friendship that is indifferent to their 15-year age gap.

Once, while sitting together on a flight assailed by severe turbulence, Harrington began to assure those staring ashenly into sick-bags around them that "turbulence has never, ever taken a plane down".

To which Lowry interjected: "There's a first time for everything."

Shane Lowry with wife Wendy and daughter Iris. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Shane Lowry with wife Wendy and daughter Iris. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Harrington joked afterwards that he "wanted to strangle" Lowry.

But the two are palpably close despite taking very different approaches to the game.

If Lowry likes not to overthink the business of navigating his way through the maddening inconsistencies of a golf swing, Harrington is meticulous in the search for answers.

This contrast even once convinced Harrington that Lowry would struggle to make it as a professional golfer.

21 July 2019; Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates with his caddy Brian Martin his way to the 18th green during Day Four of the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Portrush, Co Antrim. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
21 July 2019; Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates with his caddy Brian Martin his way to the 18th green during Day Four of the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Portrush, Co Antrim. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
21 July 2019; Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates with his wife Wendy Horner and daughter Iris after winning The Open Championship on Day Four of the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Portrush, Co Antrim. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
21 July 2019; Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates with his wife Wendy Horner and daughter Iris and the Claret Jug after winning The Open Championship on Day Four of the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Portrush, Co Antrim. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
21 July 2019; Shane Lowry of Ireland kisses The Claret Jug after winning The Open Championship on Day Four of the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Portrush, Co Antrim. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Republic Of Ireland's Shane Lowry signs autographs after winning The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 21, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Golf - The 148th Open Championship - Royal Portrush Golf Club, Portrush, Northern Ireland - July 21, 2019 Republic of Ireland's Shane Lowry celebrates with the Claret Jug trophy after winning The Open Championship REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
21 July 2019; Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates with his parents, Bridget and Brendan, after winning The Open Championship on Day Four of the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Portrush, Co Antrim. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
21 July 2019; Shane Lowry of Ireland makes his way to the 18th green during Day Four of the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Portrush, Co Antrim. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Shane Lowry's dad Brendan Lowry congratulates his son
21 July 2019; Shane Lowry of Ireland with the Claret Jug after winning The Open Championship on Day Four of the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Portrush, Co Antrim. Photo by John Dickson/Sportsfile
21 July 2019; Shane Lowry of Ireland is embraced by Tommy Fleetwood of England on the 18th green after winning The Open Championship on Day Four of the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Portrush, Co Antrim. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
21 July 2019; Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates as he walks onto the 18th green on their way to winning The Open Championship on Day Four of the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Portrush, Co Antrim. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates with his parents Bridget and Brendan Lowry, brother Alan and sister Sinead with the Claret Jug, with his wife Wendy Horner and daughter Iris, left
21 July 2019; Shane Lowry of Ireland walks out to recieve the Claret Jug after winning The Open Championship on Day Four of the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Portrush, Co Antrim. Photo by John Dickson/Sportsfile
21 July 2019; Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates on the 18th green after winning The Open Championship on Day Four of the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Portrush, Co Antrim. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
21 July 2019; Shane Lowry of Ireland on the 18th green during Day Four of the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Portrush, Co Antrim. Photo by John Dickson/Sportsfile
21 July 2019; Shane Lowry of Ireland and caddy Brian Martin make their way to the 18th green during Day Four of the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Portrush, Co Antrim. Photo by John Dickson/Sportsfile
21 July 2019; Shane Lowry of Ireland kisses the Claret Jug after winning the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Portrush, Co Antrim. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Shane Lowry of Ireland during a press conference after winning The Open Championship
21 July 2019; Shane Lowry of Ireland with the Claret Jug after winning The Open Championship on Day Four of the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Portrush, Co Antrim. Photo by John Dickson/Sportsfile

He saw the Offaly man almost missing a tee-time in France once as evidence of fecklessness, thinking to himself "he won't last".

But Lowry is now €1.7m richer and has been catapulted into that gilded league of golfers coveted by tournament organisers everywhere.

It will all seem an eternity removed from the kid Manchip saw something in.

When Lowry won 2005's Leinster Boys at Skerries, Brendan watched from behind a curtain in the clubhouse.

One year later, Lowry shot 66 in the West of Ireland only to be disqualified when his playing partner put him down for eagle, par instead of birdie, birdie (same total) on two closing holes, a set-back Lowry described at the time as feeling "like the end of the world".

Within a month of that incident, he took another blow to the solar plexus, disqualified again after failing to sign his card after shooting 74 in horrific weather conditions for the Irish Amateur championship at Portmarnock.

A former pupil of St Francis Boys School in Clara and Ard Scoil Chiaráin secondary school, he has dipped in and out of sports psychology without ever really conveying enthusiasm for the idea that someone outside the ropes can have a meaningful affect on how he deals with inevitable stress points during a competitive round.

Yesterday that trust in himself and those closest to him paid off handsomely in conditions that reduced some of the world's best golfers to virtual ruin.

And a chat over coffee with Manchip on Wednesday proved vital.

"I suppose I didn't even know going out this morning if I was good enough to win a major," said Lowry, the cries of "olé, olé, olé" still defiant in an evening downpour.

"But Neil always said I would win one.

"At least one," grinned the champion golfer of 2019.

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