Shane Lowry’s new sponsorship deal could be a banker as he bids to get back on the major trail with his first Irish Open win as a pro.
A fairytale winner as an amateur in 2009, the popular Offaly ace has signed a lucrative three-year deal with Bank of Ireland — just as Pádraig Harrington did seven years ago.
Dubliner Harrington went on to capture the Irish Open at Adare Manor that year, confessing that it was the key that allowed to win the Open a few weeks later and three majors in 13 months.
Hoping for a similar boost, Lowry beamed: “One major in the next few years would do me.
“But obviously Bank of Ireland sponsored Pádraig in those years when he won his major and hopefully I can wear the logo with pride like he did and maybe get a few tournament wins and you never know, maybe a major as well.”
Gutted to miss the US Open cut by a shot last week, Lowry knows that a big week at Fota Island would seal his place in next month's Open Championship at Hoylake. The three players, not already exempt, who finish in the Top-10 and ties at the Irish Open will qualify for The Open as part of the new Open Qualifying Series which offers places at Hoylake to the top finishes in Ireland, the Scottish Open, the Quikens National Loans (4), the John Deere Classic (1).
Gunning for his third tour win, Lowry said: “I generally don’t like talking about winning but I’m coming here this week to contend. I’m really excited about the next four days.
“It's hard to describe what it would mean to win the Irish Open as a pro. It would be fantastic. It would be everything really.
“It’s probably the next best thing to winning a major.”
Lowry is hoping to finally get some momentum in his career having had more than his share of stop-start runs in recent times.
His victory in Portugal two years ago sent him rocketing towards the top 50 in the world but the end of the season came too soon and illness wrecked his chances of finishing in the top 50.
"I felt like I was a bit unlucky at that time that I got sick. If the season had kept going, I felt like I could have kept going from there."
A rollercoaster start to 2013 on both sides of the pond led to an inconsistent campaign and a poor start to 2014.
From worrying about his card, he finished well in the Spanish Open at PGA Catalunya and then got moving with that brilliant second place finish in the BMW PGA at Wentworth, followed quickly by his win in US Open International Qualifying at Walton Heath.
The US Open didn't quite work out as he missed the cut by one, double bogeying his 16th hole on Friday and then three-putting the last.
Those experiences have whet Lowry's appetite for more appearances on the big stage. The Irish Open is something he knows he can win again. If he pulls it off, the door to the Ryder Cup will be left slightly ajar.
"There's never a bad time to win but this week would be special," he said.