Paul McGinley believes that Shane Lowry must not get ahead of himself and learn to deal with high expectations if he’s to become a Major force and a Ryder Cup star.
The Dubliner is impressed with the way the pride of Clara has moved on from his 2009 Irish Open win as an amateur to become a World Golf Championship winner and a contender for major titles with Top 10 finishes in the Open in 2014 and the US Open last year.
But with all of Clara and Esker Hills cheering him on, as well as every other ordinary golfer in Ireland, McGinley knows that the world No 32 finds dealing with expectations to be a challenge.
“Everybody now will have a great interest in how Shane does,” McGinley said. “He certainly plays the modern game in so far as he hits the ball a long way which you need to do and he chips and putts incredibly well on top of all that.
“With that big win that he had in the world event at the end of last summer, he is now very much established on the world stage. He is a legitimate contender and a legitimate guy that we can row in behind and look forward to watching compete.”
McGinley knows that a guy who can see off major winners Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk and Justin Rose at Firestone has the mental strength to win any event.
But he also fears that Lowry, who celebrates his 29th birthday today (Saturday) has a habit of getting distracted by expectations and can take his eye off the ball.
McGinley said: “The thing for Shane is not to get distracted with what could be or might be and just stay in the present and stay very much focused on every individual week, the Ryder Cup will come to him and major wins will come to him and other big tournament wins will come to him once he stays focused on what he is doing and focused and very much in the present, which is what he did at Firestone
“It is difficult and when you are trying to be a top player in the world like Shane is there are doing to be a lot of challenges along the way, there are going to be a lot of bumps on the road and you have got to learn how to deal with those and one of those is the idea of expectation.
“By his own admission he felt the expectation on his shoulders last year after his big win, even after his big performance going into the Open Championship he really felt that he was going to perform well and thought he had too much expectation on his shoulders so he will have learnt from that and dealing with expectation is one of those things that Shane is going to have to find a way of dealing with if he is going to become the player that he wants to be.”
Lowry missed the cut by one on his debut at Augusta National last year but McGinley does not believe that was down to being overawed by the occasion.
“I don’t think there is any tournament in the world that would be overawing for him,” he said. “He has got through that stage of playing in tournaments for the first time and knowing what he is coming back to, he has established himself on the world stage.
“Obviously he hasn’t played Ryder Cup yet, a lot of us think and hope that he is going to make the team this year, if he does he will be a great addition to the team but he knows himself that he has got to perform well over the season.”
The Masters is the perfect opportunity for Lowry to step up to the plate.
Sky Sports is showing all four Majors - including the Open for the first time - and the Ryder Cup during 2016, starting at the Masters 7-10 April