Shane Lowry has been trying to follow up his amazing Irish Open win for nearly three years. But while shooting his mouth off is anathema to him, he knows his courge with his clubs will stand to him when he next gets a chance to win. In fact, he doesn’t rule out finally grabbing that second European Tour victory when he returns to his old stomping ground of Royal Portrush for next month’s Irish Open.
As Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell begin their build up with an appearance in the Volvo World Match Play in Spain and Pádraig Harrington attempts to avoid a third successive miss cut in the HP Byron Nelson Classic in Texas, Lowry will be in Portrush for a practice round with coach Neil Manchip and a couple of friends.
All the Irish Open pressure will be on big guns like Clarke, McDowell, Harrington and world No 1 Rory McIlroy and providing he doesn’t win between now and then, that could leave the way clear for Lowry to sneak under the radar and challenge for tour win number two.
“I got to the final of the North of Ireland Amateur at Portrush in 2007 and won it in 2008 so I have very fond memories of there,” said the 25-year old, who returns to tour action at Wentworth next week. “I am looking forward to going back and playing it with my coach and a few friends.”
Lowry bacome just the third amateur to win on the European Tour when he beat Robert Rock in a play-off for the 2009 Irish Open at a rain-lashed County Louth. It was just the second home victory in the Irish Open since 1982 but Lowry believes he has a good chance this year.
He said: “It’s tough for an Irish player to win the Irish Open because there is so much pressure on the home players with extra commitments.
“Even though Padraig won at Adare and I did it in Baltray, there’s a lot of pressure on the the Irish players to perform.
“I felt it last year in Killarney, much more so than the first year. But you never know - a bit of bad weather might suit me. I know how to get it around a links course in bad weather!”
Currently ranked 128th in the world, Lowry knows that he will be a victim of the European Tour’s stop-start early season schedule until he is a top-50 player.
His first goal is to establish himself in the world’s top 100, guaranteeing is place in the US PGA and, potentially, the BMW Lake Malaren event in Shanghai later this season.
Gaining greater consistency is his goal. But what Lowry doesn’t want to change is his free-flowing attitude to the game. He likes to go for his shots when at all possible, which is why he loved watching Bubba Watson’s Masters triumph at Augusta or the very best of the late Seve Ballesteros.
“I think Bubba’s brilliant,” Shane says. “I was watching Seve on Sky Sports Greats the other day and I’d love to have the guts to play like him. To just stand up and hit and find it and hit it again. The way he swung the club was just instinctive. It’s something that is not taught.”
Lowry says he’d love to see a tournament where yardage books are banned and everything is done by eye. He doesn’t ask his caddie Dermot Byrne for yardages inside 100 yards but knows it would be tough to play and compete in the modern game without going by the numbers.
“That’s why you have a caddie,” he explained. “That’s the way it is now. You have to play by numbers now and I play by numbers. I used to never play by numbers but I do. I know exactly how far my clubs go.”
Lowry has had his share of top 10 finishes since winning the Irish Open but what interests him is victory. If he has a chance to win coming down the stretch, he’s promised himself that he will always go for is shots rather than worry about finishing fifth instead of second. He’s going for it the Bubba Watson way.
“Sometimes when I am playing golf and I get in and I have an impossible shot, my caddie Dermot is at me to chip it out. But sometimes you see something and you want to hit the shot that you see. That’s the way Bubba is. You have to have the courage to make mistakes. I still do it. If I ever have the chance to win, I am just going to go for it.
“I was watching the Masters and the shot he played [in the play-off] , it was just ridiculous how good it was. No one can teach you how to do that. You either have that or you don’t. That’s the way I am.”