Saturday 24 February 2018

Shane Lowry sends out pleas for sliothars as he gears up for Masters

Puckarounds and quizzes help Lowry relax ahead of Masters

Shane Lowry plays a shot from a bunker on the second hole during a practice round in Augusta yesterday. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Far from the madding crowd, Shane Lowry's relaxation in the build-up to only his third Masters involves a sport close to his heart - hurling.

But there's a problem.

Lowry and his team brought a few hurleys and sliothars out to Augusta to have a bit of a puck-around and craic, but they're down to just one sliotar.

"We burst one off the road and we've lost another one," he said. "We have only one left. If anyone coming over tomorrow could bring over a few, it would be great!"

A puck-around is one thing, but Lowry won't take risks.

"It's something to do. I wouldn't be doing too much with it now; I wouldn't be trying to catch them (sliotars) or anything, just in case," he explained. "I just smack it up and down the road."

The Lowry group - coach Neil Manchip, caddie Dermot Byrne, father Brendan, brother Alan, uncle Mark Scanlon and manager Brian Moran - have come to the Masters with one mission: to see Shane perform as well as possible in the 81st staging of this magnificent tournament.

The golfer's work has to be done, but the off-course time needs to be filled with as much relaxation as possible, hence the hurling and the highly competitive quiz series between the older members of the group and the younger guys.

Lowry celebrated his 30th birthday on Sunday but it was a quiet event - apart from the quiz contests.

"It's one-all," he said. "We got a bus down because there were so many of us on Saturday and had a quiz to pass the time, and then we had one when we got to the house.

"We (young guys) won the one on the way down, they won the one at the house.

"Alan is the quiz-master. Listen, it's a bit of craic. We'll have one this afternoon. There's going to be no more golf for me for the day."

On Sunday, Lowry played the back nine holes, followed by some short-game practice.

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The original plan yesterday was to play the front nine, but the Clara man was enjoying his outing alongside two-time Major champion Martin Kaymer and Sweden's Alex Noren, so they carried on down the 10th and into the back nine.

A severe weather warning was in place and the group got through 15 holes before heading for the comfort and safety of the clubhouse shortly before the first thunderstorm deluged the course and caused the patrons to seek shelter.

"I kind of knew we weren't going to get 18, so it was nice to get 15 holes in," he said. "That's me done for the day, chill out for the afternoon.

"The forecast is nice tomorrow and okay Wednesday, so I'll play nine tomorrow and nine Wednesday, so 18 more holes, it's not too bad. I'm happy enough."

Setting the challenge in context, and appreciating this is only his third time to compete in the Masters, Lowry is quite comfortable with his knowledge of the course.

"Myself and Dermo were talking about it today," he said. "It's there now, there's nothing new to it. You know where to go and where not to go.

"Sometimes it is better not knowing where not to go but it is there in front of you now and you just have to try to make good shots.

"Sometimes you might hit a good shot and get a little bit of cruel luck, sometimes you might hit a bad shot and get a decent bounce and that's kind of the way it is.

"It is one of those courses where you have to try and hit as many good shots as you can, and see where you finish at the end of the week."

That said, the aura of Augusta sends a tingle down his spine.

Read more: Augusta diary: 'Dream on' says Bubba

"There's no other tournament I'd go to on Saturday. Any day you get to play Augusta is a good day."

This has been an eventful few months, with the birth of daughter Iris a welcome interruption to golfing schedule. It begs the question as to how the lightly raced Lowry will cope with the demands of the first major of the season.

To date he has competed in five tournaments on the PGA Tour, including a Friday withdrawal from the weather-affected Genesis Open where he was clearly going to miss the cut for the weekend.

Lowry also failed to get out of his group at the WGC-Dell Match Play and did not enter the Shell Houston Open, but he feels good about his game.

"I am a firm believer that you can't really peak for any tournament. I don't think you can say, 'This is exactly what I need to do leading up to the tournament and I'm going to play my best golf', because it's golf and you don't know what's going to happen," he said.

Irish Independent

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