Shane Lowry on his way to victory in the Portugal Masters last year. Photo Eoin Clarke/www.golffile.ieShane Lowry admits he’s hunting some pretty big game as he tees off his 2013 season in South Africa this week.

The Clara native, 25, agonisingly missed out on an early Masters invitation when he finished 2012 ranked 52nd in the world - a mere 0.04 points outside the top 50.

But while he dreams of playing Augusta National and the PGA Tour and even of a Ryder Cup cap, he knows he must keep his head down and not get distracted by the big prizes that are within his grasp.

Set to join Pádraig Harrington, Darren Clarke and Michael Hoey in the elite, 33-man Volvo Golf Champions in Durban this week, Lowry said: “I’ll just see how I do week to week. As I said before, I think I am going where I am going and I am going to be a top 50 player in the world at some stage.

“When that is going to happen, I don’t know. It could happen this week or next week or the week after but I am sure it will happen and I have just got to stay patient play as well as I possibly can.

“When you have this ranking, you can put pressure on yourself and play badly. But I am joust going to go out and play golf and see how I get on.

“The short-term goal is to get into the Masters, play in all the majors and the big tournaments.

“The main goal would be to go out and compete at the highest level and try to get another win.

“I feel the way I played at the end of last year is good enough to compete on any tour. There are no major changes that are needed.

“I am just going to continue doing my own thing and not let the distractions get in the way.”

Lowry gave up the chance to chase his PGA Tour card at the US Q-School at the end of last year to concentrate on making it into the big time through the world’s top 50.

Illness scuppered his hopes of getting the job done before Christmas when he picked up a bug and ended up in a Dubai hospital during the season-ending finale.

But after winning his first pro title in Portugal in October, Lowry knows he’s ready to step up to the next level and compete with the game’s elite every week.

And with his place in next month’s 64-man WGC-Accenture Match Play looking secure, he’s hoping to make a fast start in South Africa, Abu Dhabi and Dubai over the next month so he can earn the top 50 ranking that would open the door to some of the biggest events in the world.

“My next three months depends on how I do these over the next three weeks,” Lowry said.

“If I am in the top 50 I will be in the Masters, Bay Hill, the Players and hopefully my manager can get me a couple of invites.

“I am obviously into the WGC in Akron again and I will be in the US PGA and hopefully the US Open. Hopefully I will play a bit over in the US this year and get my card.

“I’m a better player than before, more mature, and I definitely feel I can compete out there in America.

“I don’t think the standard is much different to Europe to be honest and the courses could suit me.”

Lowry may seek an invitation to the Honda Classic in March, where stablemate and world No 1 Rory McIlroy will be defending the title. And if he qualifies for the Masters, he will have his eye on the pre-Augusta events in Florida and Texas.

Making a Ryder Cup team is another goal and Lowry admits that he’d love to play under an Irish skipper at Gleneagles in 2014.

He said. “It’s a big goal but there is a lot of golf to be played between now and the start of the qualifying and between then and the Ryder Cup.

“I just have to see how I get on this year. I’d love to make that team in 2014 but it’s not for me to say who should be captain.

“It’s between Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley and I think the two lads would be great. Personally I think Paul should get this one and Darren should get the next one but who knows they way they are going to vote.

“If Paul doesn’t get this one, I don’t think he will get the next one and I think he deserves to be Ryder Cup captain.”