Irish Open is Lowry's green room for big summer show

Shane Lowry in action at the BMW International last week, where he closed with a seven under par 65. Picture © Eoin Clarke www.golffile.ieShane Lowry is prepared to take one for the team this week as he gears up for what is potentially the biggest summer of his career.

As the touring professional for Carton House, where he has also set up home overlooking the O’Meara Course that could well host the event next year, the 2009 Irish Open champion is bracing himself for a busy week.

“I will give everyone what they want,” the world No 86 said yesterday. “After all, it is just one week a year. When I get inside the ropes on Thursday, that will be my peace and quiet for the week.”

Lowry knows it will be tough to contend given the massive pressure to perform and the constant demands on his time.

But having lived through a similar experience when he defended the title at Killarney in 2010, he believes he’s ready and able to do both.

“I’ve been through it before,” he said. “It is just one of those weeks. There are going to be big crowds and I am going to be in demand. But that’s a good thing. I could be at the bottom of the pile or not even playing.

“I am going to spend time with anyone who comes up to see me  and stay and sign and talk to people as long as I can and give them what they want to see as well.”

The 26-year old Clara man has been globe-trotting this year, playing six times in the US in an effort to secure his playing privileges on the world’s biggest tour.

His first outing was a resounding success as he beat world No 1 Rory McIlroy in the first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play in Tucson before falling to stablemate Graeme McDowell in the third round.

And while his other outings were less than successful - he missed the cut on sponsor’s invitations in Puerto Rico, Houston, New Orleans and the Memorial in Ohio - he was 15th in the Valero Texas Open and knows that he has the game to triumph in the US.

“You don’t get away with much and the standard is a little bit better,” he said. “But I did learn loads. If I try to put my finger on it, I can’t but it is something that if I ever go back there in the future, it will definitely stand to me.”

He’ll be also be hoping that his experiences stand to him over the next two months as he follows the Irish Open with appearances in the four huge events — the Scottish Open, The Open Championship at Muirfield, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone and the US PGA at Oak Hill Country Club in upstate New York.

“It is a great schedule,” he said. “It’s a top 50 in the world schedule even though I am not top 50 in the world. But if I can play well for the next couple of months….things will be good.”

Lowry has no regrets about his early season globe-trotting and believes he’s ready to rediscover the form that saw him win his second European Tour title in Portugal last year.

“It is coming along,” he said, reflecting on Sunday’s closing 65 for 21st place in the BMW International Open in Munich. “Last week it was close to being really, really good.

“Obviously yesterday I played very well. It was the easiest 65 I have ever shot. Very stress free and it gives me a lot of confidence going into this week. It’s all I needed.

“All I wanted going out yesterday morning was to try and shoot a decent number and try and hit some good shots to give myself a bit of confidence.”

Barring some later withdrawals, the 156-man field has been finalised with Irish major winners Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Pádraig Harrington and Darren Clarke heading a list that features five of the world’s top 50 with the addition of Francesco Molinari, Paul Lawrie and defending champion Jamie Donaldson.

The eight sponsors invitations have also been handed out with Waterville’s Mark Murphy and former runner up Peter Hedblom of Sweden added to the mix yesterday alongside West Waterford’s Seamus Power, Ulstermen Alan Dunbar and Gareth Shaw, Welshman Rhys Davies, American Tyler McCumber (son of Kevin Phelan’s coach Mark McCumber) and Ireland’s Damien McGrane, who missed the entry deadline.

Rookie South African professional Brandon Stone, who was originally included on the list of invitees, freed up a spot for 2003 runner-up Hedblom when he got into the field as a result of his impressive share of 10th behind Ernie Els on his European Tour debut last Sunday.