Shane Lowry insists it will take “something special” to win an Olympic medal but he’s determined to upstage the big-hitters in Tokyo.
The Offaly ace (34) knows he faces a tough task with Open champion Collin Morikawa, world No 4 Justin Thomas and No 5 Xander Schauffele in the 60-strong field.
But he feels he has the form to contend and if he can avoid the thick rough and find fairways at Kasumigaseki Country Club, his iron play is gold standard.
“What people don’t understand is we don’t win too many medals,” said Lowry, who played 15 holes on Monday and nine holes yesterday ahead of tomorrow’s first round date alongside American Patrick Reed and England’s Tommy Fleetwood (02.36am Irish time). “So I think it would be huge for me and huge for the country.
“Obviously it’s going to take a lot of good golf. It’s going to take something special this week. But it would mean an awful lot to me.”
Rory McIlroy goes out in the group just ahead of Lowry with Morikawa and South Korea’s Sungjae Im.
The Holywood star was not at the course yesterday with team captain Neil Manchip confirming he was “training” and “100 per cent fit” to take on a track boasting perfect greens and “some very tough rough”.
The event has been overshadowed by high-profile absences for the second Games running with world No 1 Jon Rahm and No 6 Bryson DeChambeau out with Covid-19, the likes of Dustin Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood opting not to play and names such as Brooks Koepka and Patrick Cantlay failing to qualify.
But Lowry is determined to make the most of the experience and give his all. “I am here now and I’ve been in village and met all the team and I can see what the Olympic Games actually means to people to come here,” he added. “To be able to bring a medal back from my country would be incredible and it would make me incredibly proud to do so.
“I’ve said it all along; I’m not just coming here to enjoy myself I am coming here to try and win a medal. Obviously gold is number one but it doesn’t really matter what colour it is.
“There have been quite a few withdrawals for this one and they were quite a few withdrawals for the last one but I think it will mean a lot more to people as the years go on.
“But I am here now and I’m a very proud Irishman and everyone at home knows that. I love my country and I’d love nothing more than to bring home a medal.
“My game is pretty good. I am happy. I had a decent Open and I have had a couple of decent events before that. I have a huge couple of months ahead of me so this is the start of it hopefully.”