Shane Lowry is gunning for an Dubai Duty Free Irish Open double that could catapult him towards a Ryder Cup debut for K Club hero Darren Clarke.
The Clara ace, 29, was one of the thousands who ringed the first tee in 2006 to watch Clarke hit that incredibly emotional tee shot just weeks after the death of his wife Heather.
Fast-forward 11 years and Lowry already has an Irish Open on his CV following his amazing win as an amateur at Co Louth in 2009.
But he knows that he needs to put his foot down in the Ryder Cup qualifying stakes to take the pressure off his shoulders heading into this summer’s majors.
A second Irish Open win would be the perfect springboard to Hazeltine and just what he needs as he heads from The K Club to Wentworth for the BMW PGA next week.
Lowry said: “It's hard not to think of Ryder Cup in a Ryder Cup year to be honest. I was here on the Friday back in 2006.
“I remember Darren going to the first tee and Pádraig, and I remember just out watching the golf, I remember the atmosphere was crazy.
“It was good to be here. Hopefully I get to experience that in the near future. Hopefully it will be this year at Hazeltine.I think these next few weeks are massive for Ryder Cup.
“If you look at it, if you have two good weeks here — obviously two really good weeks — you could be on that Ryder Cup Team in two weeks' time.
“I want to do well the next few weeks because I want to put myself there come the US Open because the longer it goes on, the more pressure I'm going to be putting on myself.”
Lowry missed great chances to rack up huge Ryder Cup qualifying points when he failed to build on fast starts and had poor weekends in the Masters and The Players finishing 39th and 16th.
But he insists the pressure to make Clarke’s team is not getting to him or affecting his form.
He roared: “It’s not getting in the way of my golf. I'm not even coming close to thinking about it when I'm on the golf course.
“And I’ve no problem talking about it off the golf course. There’s definitely no point sitting here saying, it's not on my radar. It is on my radar for sure.”
Despite all that , he’s still over one million points (euro) outside the team via the European Points List but a win in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open could send him rocketing into the automatic places via the Ryder Cup World Points list.
Chasing the €666,660 top prize, he said: “There’s big Ryder Cup Points and big prize money up for grabs and nearly everybody who wants to make that team is here this week.
“It’s a great tournament, a great field so if we get a bit of decent weather it’s going to be great.”
His big dilemma is whether or not to defend the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, which does not count for Ryder Cup qualification, or head instead to Paris for the Open de France and the chance to win double points.
He said: “I am not locked-in to playing either the Bridgestone or teeing-up in the French Open but then I want to go back and defend the Bridgestone, and that’s my first choice but I don’t know what I am going to do
“I have until the Friday before to enter either event but if I am say Euro 20,000 outside of being among the automatic eight Ryder Cup qualifiers it is going to be hard not to go and play the French Open.
“That would be probably the only situation I will need to be in, if I were to not be defending the Bridgestone.”
Denying he was under pressure from either the European Tour or the PGA Tour to play one or the other, he said: “I really want to go and play in the Bridgestone, and who would not want to go back to Akron and want to defend a tournament of such stature.
“I also want to make the Ryder Cup team but if I do go and defend the Bridgestone, I think it might go a long way towards being picked for the Ryder Cup.”
As for Clarke, he beamed: “I haven’t spoken to him about it but he can have me on his team if he wants me.
Lowry looks to be rounding into form in the nick of time for the meat of the season and while he shot a 78 alongside world No 1 Jason Day in the final group at The Players on Saturday, he doesn’t believe he cracked under pressure.
Looking back on a nightmare start that saw him soar to five over after four holes, he said: “Obviously the next time I'm out with Jason Day on a Saturday or the world No. 1, whoever it is, things will probably be a little bit different.
“I'm not saying I let the nerves get to me or let it get the better of me. I just got off to a bad start. I played great after that.”