Mr Big Time
Shane Lowry after making par on the first hole during the final round of the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa. on Sunday, June 19, 2016. (Copyright USGA/Darren Carroll)

Shane Lowry after making par on the first hole during the final round of the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa. on Sunday, June 19, 2016. (Copyright USGA/Darren Carroll)

Shane Lowry might look like the cuddly Offaly man who loves a pint but he insists he’s a big time player with massive Open ambitions.

The pride of Clara says he’s over the disappointment of the US Open, where he had a four shot lead with a round to go but let the title slip through his fingers at the death.

Dustin Johnson powered to victory there but Lowry lost it on the greens coming home and insists he can become Open champion this week if his putter behaves.

Insisting he’s moved on after the US Open, he said: “I’m not crying myself to sleep every night. I'll survive. It's just one of those things that happened and I'm sure I'll be back.”

He could be back as soon as Sunday and heading home to Clara with the Claret Jug in his carry on luggage.

The key is that he’s got that inner belief now that not only is he’s one of golf’s big time players, he’s a major winner in waiting.

He said: “I genuinely believe that, without sounding too cocky, that I am a big time player. 

“I like the big tournaments. I love playing in front of the big crowds. I love playing late on Saturdays and Sundays. I think it's where you want to be. 

“Obviously I had a good win last year and I've been up there in a few majors here and there. 

“I just love it like I love the heat of battle. I love competing at the highest level. There's no greater buzz in the world. It's what I go out and play golf for.

“I just hope I'm there on Saturday afternoon with a chance with 36 holes to go and we'll see after that.”

Lowry’s game stood up well under pressure at the US Open until he three-putted the 14th, 15th and 16th to fall two behind the outstanding Johnson.

Putting has always been his Achilles’ heel but he’s confident that he can feed off playing partners Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose and make birdies.

Smiling, he said: “I think if I hole a few putts this week, I can stand there on the 18th green on Sunday, hopefully lifting the trophy.

“I'm not putting badly by any means at the minute. I putted obviously well at Oakmont. I mean, I was putting in 40 mile-an-hour winds last Thursday, so you can't really gauge that too much. 

“I think the greens are lovely here this week. There are going to be quite a few people holing putts. If I can hole a few putts, I do think I can do well here.”

Feeding off Spieth in particular could be huge for Lowry, who putted beautifully for 63 holes in Pittsburgh

Delighted to be drawn with the world’s best putter in Spieth, he said: “I played with Jordan last year. When I saw the draw, I was pretty happy.

"I feel like when you are playing with good players, they drag you along with them. Hopefully we can drag each other along and shoot good scores. 

“It is nice to be off early and not be sitting around watching TV. It’ll be nice to go out and try to shoot a score.”

Learning from the mistakes he made at Oakmont will be key for Lowry, who forced himself to sit down alone and watch the replay of the final round.

The pain of losing out there is spurring him on and he knows that winning will require a cool head as well as a hot putter.

Reflecting on his loss, he confessed: “The first few days — the Monday, Tuesday afterwards — were not easy. 

“I was obviously quite disappointed, and I'm not going to lie, there was a few moments where there might have been a tear shed or two. That's just the way it is. That's the game we play.

“I know I'll be back there. I know I'll give myself a chance again. It's just up to me to kind of learn from the mistakes of that Sunday afternoon and bring that into the next one.

“When I say you learn from that, you can't really sit down the following week and write stuff down. 

“It’s just a question of maturing as both a player and a person when you get yourself into a situation like that. It's nothing you can work on, I don't think. 

“It's just something that you have to keep putting yourself there and you learn eventually.

“I suppose I was beating myself up for a few days after it. But if you look at it, after the US Open, I was a lot further along in my career than I was the week before, so there are lot of positives to take from it. 

“I think Dustin passed me on the ninth or something like that. So I led the tournament for quite a long time. 

“It really looked like I was probably going to win or come very close, anyway. I just let it slip the last few holes.”

Oakmont was a brutal test and Lowry expects a similar examination this week, even though Royal Troon offers up birdie chances early in the round if the wind is favourable.

He said: “You've got to keep trying to make pars, stay confident and stay patient. 

“At some stage on the front nine or on a few holes this week, you'll get on a run and make four birdies in a row. You just have to wait for those moments to happen.

“It’s a little bit different to Oakmont, but I think the winning score might not be too dissimilar.”

With six contenders — Lowry is joined by amateur Paul Dunne and major winners Pádraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell — Lowry sees no reason why an Irish player can’t get the job done for the fifth time in the Open in 10 years.

Assessing the Irish chances, Lowry said: “Rory is one of the favourites, so there’s obviously a chance of him winning. Graeme's been playing okay. He had a decent week last week.

“Padraig, if he gets himself in there with a sniff, you never know what can happen. 

“I'm obviously playing okay. There is no reason why we can't or there can't be an Irish winner on Sunday, I think.

“We've got a strong challenge here this week. We're obviously used to the conditions that this course is going to throw. Yeah, there's no reason why not. I just hope it’s me.”