Friday 23 August 2019

Pub pep talk helps Shane Lowry take early lead at Open Championship

Offalyman reveals coffee and chat with coach helped map out good opening at Royal Portrush

Ireland's Shane Lowry reacts after completing his first round at the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush Golf Club, Portrush, Northern Ireland.
Ireland's Shane Lowry reacts after completing his first round at the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush Golf Club, Portrush, Northern Ireland.

Carl Markham

Shane Lowry got a few things off his chest in a pub pep talk with his coach on the eve of the Open and that allowed him to turn up the next day and set the clubhouse lead.

The Offaly native felt he had a few issues with his game having practised around Royal Portrush this week so headed down to the nearby Bushmills Inn with coach Neil Manchip to thrash a few things out.

Whatever was said clearly did the trick as despite admitting he still felt uneasy as he arrived at the first tee on Thursday morning he walked off the 18th green to sign for a four-under 67.

"I don't feel like practice went unbelievably well this week. I felt a little bit uncomfortable," he said.

"We went for a coffee yesterday down at the Bushmills Inn and we found a little quiet room, we had a great chat for about 40 minutes.

"We just put everything out in the open, everything out on the table, what could happen, what might happen.

"I left that room full of confidence and ready to go. (But) I was probably as nervous as I've been in quite a while on the first tee, almost ever, I'd say.

"It's the British Open, it's in Ireland, I'm playing well, I feel like I should come up and do well.

Darren Clarke on the 12th green during day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club.
Darren Clarke on the 12th green during day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club.

"I'm sure there's plenty of golfers standing on the first tee feeling uneasy. You wouldn't be human if you weren't nervous or uneasy about playing in the biggest tournament in the world.

"I just hope I'm nervous on Sunday afternoon out there. It's right where you want to be, and you have to tell yourself that when you're there.

"Where would you rather be? Would you rather be here or sitting at home watching on TV?"

Lowry was two under through five and picked up another two shots either side of the turn to go top of the leaderboard.

He was overtaken by Webb Simpson, who briefly got it to five under before bogeys at the American's final two holes - compared to Lowry's six straight pars coming home - restored the Irishman to top spot with his best opening round in a major.

"It's my best round by about eight shots. That was nice," he added.

"It was nice to shoot a good score and hopefully I can go out and keep at it the next few days."

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