Monday 16 September 2019

Down to earth: How Shane Lowry's enigmatic wife helped make him a Major winner

Open Champion Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates with the Claret Jug, wife Wendy and daughter Iris on the 18th green during the final round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 21, 2019 in Portrush, Co. Antrim. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Open Champion Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates with the Claret Jug, wife Wendy and daughter Iris on the 18th green during the final round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 21, 2019 in Portrush, Co. Antrim. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Republic Of Ireland's Shane Lowry celebrates with wife Wendy Honner and daughter after winning the Claret Jug during day four of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club
‘I owe a lot to her’: Wendy Lowry accompanies Open champion Shane Lowry on the golf tour to help him cope with the highs and lows of being a professional golfer.
Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates with wife Wendy Honner and daughter Iris Lowry on the 18th green after winning during Day Four of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on January 19, 2019 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Shane Lowry, his wife Wendy and grandmother Emily Scanlon at his homecoming in Clara, Co Offaly. Picture: Steve Humphreys
Wife and daughter of Shane Lowry of Ireland, Wendy Honner and Iris Lowry celebrate after he won during Day Four of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on January 19, 2019 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
Open Champion Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates with wife Wendy and daughter Iris on the 18th green. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

There is something truly refreshing about a modern-day mystery.

Wendy Lowry (née Honner) has been married to superstar golfer Shane and found herself propelled headfirst into the spotlight this week after his historic British Open win. The woman who prioritises her privacy above all else was suddenly one of the most talked about people in Ireland, the UK and beyond.

The fact that she has chosen to be such a discreet presence during his burgeoning career is a conscious one. There are plenty of opportunities to step to the fore and soak up the interest that comes with being married to a golf superstar, but that’s not Wendy.

First and foremost, she’s a devoted wife and mother to two-year-old Iris and even her personal Instagram page is a love letter to her family, featuring either pictures of Shane and Iris with just a handful of her facing the camera.

Shane Lowry, his wife Wendy and grandmother Emily Scanlon at his homecoming in Clara, Co Offaly. Picture: Steve Humphreys
Shane Lowry, his wife Wendy and grandmother Emily Scanlon at his homecoming in Clara, Co Offaly. Picture: Steve Humphreys

Last Sunday, she had less than 2,000 followers and by today, she has more than 10,000. The enigmatic nature of Mrs Lowry is even more of her appeal, encapsulating the discreet approach to which nearly all well-known Irish take their fame.

She met Shane on a “random night out” in 2012 at an undisclosed location and the only hint he gave about their love story’s origins was that it wasn’t Coppers. Their 2016 wedding was treated with the same secrecy, at Wendy’s request, and the couple choosing New York City as their wedding destination ensured they had complete anonymity.

This type of subtlety would inform much of Wendy’s relationship with the public. She is a trained nurse who, like many partners of golf players, is a crucial part of the strategy and  travels with Shane around the world for competitions.

And while there has always been an interest in the naturally beautiful wife of this golfer, she understands the difference between success and fame and avoids the latter at all costs, in direct contrast to the likes of a Coleen Rooney and more similar to that of Jonny Sexton’s wife Laura Priestley.

Her understated style is her signature, shunning blinging jewels in favour of timeless pieces, including her solitaire diamond engagement ring with platinum band, coupled with a diamond wedding band.

“The solitaire is the first engagement that either a couple, lady or gentleman would request to see. It’s a timeless piece of jewellery you’d never tire of, even after 30 years,” says Stacey Scoulding, jewellery manager and buyer at Weir & Sons.

“I would typically agree it’s the type of lady who’s very discreet and not to show off. I don’t know Ms Lowry personally, she appears to be a lady who shies away from the limelight and all-encompassing the type of person who prefers a solitaire.”

The focus on her jewels at Shane’s homecoming was made all the more charming by the fact that her white shellac nail polish was chipped - presumably from biting them with anxiety during her husband’s performance - and she wasn’t overly concerned with missing a manicure appointment when there were celebrations to be had.

Open Champion Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates with wife Wendy and daughter Iris on the 18th green. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Open Champion Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates with wife Wendy and daughter Iris on the 18th green. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Her hair was groomed, but not overly coiffed and she wore a gingham blazer from Zara, confirming her girl-next-door image. She complements her husband who proves you need to have a six pack to be a champion.

Golf has been searching for a wholesome family to act as unofficial ambassadors for years and the fact that Wendy and Shane’s delightfully down-to-earth personas are filling that vacuum is made all the sweeter in Ireland.

While Rory McIlroy is happily married to Erica Stoll, a former PGA employee from New York, and Graeme McDowell with Florida native Kristin Stape, there’s a clear opening for an all-Irish couple the whole country can continue to get behind.

Both hail from Co Offaly and to use Ireland as their base while travelling around the world for Shane’s tournaments; taking advantage of the fact that their daughter isn’t yet of school-attending age.

And the role women play in golf shouldn’t be underestimated: Shane himself praised his wife for her enduring support during the celebrations in Clara.

"There were plenty of times I have been crying myself to sleep or wondering am I able to keep going but when you have a good strong woman behind you it makes it easier,” he said. “I owe a lot to her.”

Similarly, Caroline Harrington, who has been married to golfer Padraig for 22 years, revered as one of Ireland’s best sportsmen, calls the shots behind the scenes.

"All correspondence has to come through me," she said in 2016. "So, I don't 'manage him' but I do, 'manage' him, yes.”

Sergio Garcia famously said his game was better than ever thanks to the guidance and support of his wife Angela Atkins, a former golfer, and Tiger Woods’ downfall came after his personal life dominated the news cycle for much of 2009.

“I think it's highly unlikely that she's been media trained. It's likely to have been offered to her but she seems to be keen to keep herself private and I think that's part of her charm,” Sonia Harris, MD of Harris PR says. “They're clearly a hard working family so this new found fame will be difficult to cope with.”

After her homecoming appearance on Tuesday, it has been back to retreating from public life to Wendy or in her world, business as usual. It remains integral to her appeal and the continued interest in her.

“It's refreshing to see someone just get on with their lives. She doesn't have an agenda right now, and appears to be focused on keeping her family happy,” Sonia adds.

But, in perhaps the highest praise of all, Shane’s mother Bridget was filled with compliments for her daughter-in-law during an RTE News report after his win at Portrush, describing her as a “great girl”.

Irish Independent

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