'I deserve to be here. I can do this' - Shane Lowry in bullish mood ahead of US Open
Shane Lowry has insisted that his final round falter at the US Open in 2016 is no longer playing on his mind as he gets ready for a fresh assault on the title.
The Offaly golfer famously led by four shots after 54 holes three years ago but was unable to close out the tournament with his closing iround of 76 opening the door for Dustin Johnson to claim his maiden major.
"Everyone asks me about Oakmont in 2016 and whether it still plays on my mind – but the answer is no, absolutely not!” Lowry said in his Paddy Power News column.
"Just because I had a good chance of winning a US Open back then when I led on the final day before Dustin Johnson caught me, isn't an issue. If anything, it gives me more confidence going forward as I know I can call on it if I get myself in that position again."
Lowry is currently in his best run of form since that major attempt fell short, having finished in a share of second to Rory McIlroy at last weekend’s Canadian Open. That latest top ten placing has seen him rise back to 32nd in the latest world rankings and he’s heading to Pebble Beach in a confident mood.
"My three Top 10 finishes on the PGA Tour in the last couple of months has boosted my confidence. I deserve to be here. I can do this," he explained.
"I don't think I'd be playing professionally if I didn't think I could compete against some of these lads like Rory, Brooks (Koepka), Dustin and Tiger. They're in a different league when they bring their ‘A’ game and they're very hard to beat - but that doesn't mean I don't feel like I can't beat them. The one thing I'm very happy about this season is being in contention a few times and feeling very comfortable about it.
"The take-out learning so far is how comfortable I’ve felt at the top of the leaderboard. I spent a lot of last week right up there in Canada and at Harbour Town also and it felt good. The more time you spend there, the more familiar you get with it, the easier it becomes when it happens again."
While Lowry is well down in the betting at 40/1, with McIlroy, Koepka and Johnson joint favourites at 8/1, the Clara native believes that he’s capable of pulling something out of the bag at the course where fellow Irishman Graeme McDowell clinched his sole major in 2010.
"There’s been a nice few weeks in a row now where I've played well. But I don’t take anything for granted. You never know what's around the corner," he added.
"I know Pebble Beach well and while it’s going to be a lot different than the Pro-Am tournament in February and set up way harder – it’s all about hanging in there. It's literally all about hanging in. No matter what happens, you just get onto the next hole and keep battling away.
"It's an historic US Open venue and they are the ones I love. I haven't been a big fan of the Erin Hills or the way they set up Shinnecock last year. I think this type of traditional US Open set up will be great to play.
"So, I wouldn't be building myself up in my own head. If anything, I'd be trying to lower my expectations. There's a lot more people here this week with a lot more expectation than me.
"I just want to kind of sneak in there under the radar and obviously give myself a chance come the weekend."
Shane Lowry is a Paddy Power golf ambassador.