Shane Lowry is in good form on and off the course, just as you would expect from a man who after a second-place finish at the US Open has put himself in the reckoning for his first Ryder Cup team, made it into the FedEx Cup play-offs and moved up the world rankings and those for the Race to Dubai.
The fact that Lowry could and really should be contesting the 145th Open Championship as Ireland’s fifth major winner of the past eight years after leading at Oakmont by four shots after three rounds is not lost on him, however. He admits the Monday and Tuesday afterwards were not easy and there were moments where there might have been a tear or two shed.
“I’ve played 54 holes of the best golf of my life, and I played OK for the next nine and then just the back nine on Sunday, I let it slip a little bit,” he said. “But if you look, for three and a half rounds I was up there and leading in one of the biggest tournaments in the world.”
That said, the man who won the 2009 Irish Open as an amateur is adamant that he is well and truly over the disappointment and his focus now is squarely on the links challenge he faces on the Ayrshire coast. Having contended in the past two US Opens and won the WGC-Bridgestone in 2015, he feels he is arriving on the big stage and the fact that he will be accompanied by Justin Rose and Jordan Spieth for the first two rounds is proof of that.
“I have a really good group and I’m looking forward to that. That’s where I wanted to be,” he said, desperate to avoid sounding too cocky. “I’ve been in plenty of shitty groups over the years, like last-off and first-off. I like the big-time play, I like the big tournaments, I love playing in front of the big crowds. I love playing late on Saturdays and Sundays.”
“Obviously I had a good win last year and I’ve been up there in a few majors here and there. I just love the heat of it, I love competing at the highest level. There’s no greater buzz in the world. It’s what I go out and I play golf for.”
Although Lowry missed the cut in the Open last year for the first time this will be his fifth attempt to win the Claret Jug, his best finish being a tie for ninth at Hoylake in 2014 when he used the putter only 115 times in the four rounds. The Irishman feels that a similar streak with the shortest club in the bag could take finally him into the winner’s circle.
“The biggest problem is the fairway bunkers, a few of which need to be taken on, but if you play 10, 11 and 12 OK, that’s going to be key for the week,” he said. “I think if I hole a few putts this week I can stand there on Sunday, hopefully on the 18th green lifting the trophy.” So Lowry has got over his Oakmont disappointment, then?
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010