Shane Lowry shocked himself by blasting a course record equalling 65 to finish tied for ninth in The Open and knows now he can become a Sunday contender some day.
The Clara ace, 27, was “fuming” after a horrible warm up session on the range and expecting the worst. But he was beaming a few hours later when he fired seven birdies to match Dustin Johnson’s course record and prove to himself that he has the game to become a major winner.
After grabbing the clubhouse lead on 10 under — one of the few to play well from the tough side of the draw — Lowry was bursting with happiness despite coming up short in his bid for the top four finish he need to break into the world's Top 50 for the first time.
“To shoot 65 in the final round of a major, especially when you're looking at the top of the leaderboard makes me feel good about myself," he said after his first Top 10 in a major moved him to 59th in the world rankings.
“I felt so in control. And I don't know why, because if you talked to my coach Neil Manchip, I was fuming leaving the range this morning.
“I didn't hit a good shot. My last shot on the range was a low snap hook with my driver. Thankfully I hit it a little straighter than I did on the range and managed to hole a few putts.”
Looking forward to challenging for majors in future, Lowry said: “I know if I have a chance down the line, I can play the golf. I’m pretty pleased with myself.
“I just hope I can break into the top 50 in the next few months, and then come out all guns blazing next year.”
Lowry had an 18 footer for eagle at that last to set a new course record but came up just short.
He said: “I said to Dermot on the last, ‘If I can hole this, strange things happen in golf. You never know.’
“It was a little bit left, it was a little bit short. I didn't want to run it too far past. But it was a great week and I enjoyed every minute it.”
Lowry racked up 21 birdies during the week bringing his total to 63 for his last three starts.
He missed just two greens on Sunday, rattling in birdies at the first, fifth, 9th, 10th, 15th, 16th and 18th.
Setting his sights on future days of glory in The Open, he said: “I'm very comfortable in these surroundings.
“I love links golf and I think I'm good in bad conditions so hopefully I’m going to play another 15 or 20 Opens in my career.”
Can he win a big one? He wasn't about to pile pressure on himself but the answer would appear to be 'yes.'
“I think I could do it down the line. If I give myself the chance to do it, I know I can do it on Sunday.”
Exempt now for next year’s Open at St Andrews, Lowry knows he could challenge for a Ryder Cup place with a US PGA win at Valhalla next month.
But he said: “I’d have to do something extra special over there to even have a half a sniff of getting near the team.
“I haven't thought about it all year. I'm not going to start thinking about it now.”
As for his former Irish amateur team mate and stablemate Rory McIlroy, he did’t stick around to watch him collect the Claret Jug as he had a flight home at 8pm.
But he still admires McIlroy, confessing: “I think his ‘A’ game right now is pretty much almost unbeatable, which is pretty scary how good he is.
“He's only 25 but he's been an unbelievable talent since he was a kid. Anything he does you're not surprised to see it.
“I can't remember much as amateurs. But the one thing that stands out in my mind is how good he played when I played a practice round with him at Congressional.
“And that's why I think his good golf — his best golf — is almost unbeatable.”