Lowry prefers it tough; GUI says no to Irish Open invitations this year
Portstewart Golf Club

Portstewart Golf Club

Shane Lowry is looking forward to a return to traditionally tough US Open venues after finishing a massive 19 shots behind Brooks Koepka at Erin Hills.

Soft conditions and wide fairways led to a glut of low scoring in Wisconsin with 31 players breaking par and Koepka shooting 16-under in an event which has seen the winners average just over three-under-par for the past 20 years.

Tied for 46th in Milwaukee, Lowry read the criticism of the USGA on social media and said he's in favour of a massively tough strokeplay Major once a year.

"Every other week of the year is an absolute shootout so why not play the US Open as hard as you can and the best golfer at the end is going to win?" he asked.

“I know I played well last year but when I got to Oakmont I was licking my chops thinking, 'This is the kind of golf I like.

"I can't say when I got here this week I was really looking forward to it. I thought someone can shoot seven-under out there and obviously, we saw someone shoot nine under yesterday.”

Looking forward to traditional venues such as Shinnecock Hills next year, Pebble Beach in 2019, Winged Foot in 2020 or Torrey Pines in 2021, Lowry reflected on Erin Hills and added: “It is what it is. 

"It is the golf course we were given, and I just didn't do as well as I would have liked."

Lowry is also surprised to see that there will be no repeat Irish Open fairytale for an Irish amateur in next month’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Portstewart.

But the GUI is still hopeful that a top amateur or two will be given the chance to match Lowry's incredible 2009 Baltray win in future years, providing there is no clash with the European Amateur Team Championships.

It emerged yesterday that the GUI turned down the offer of invitations this year as our top six Irish amateurs will be travelling to Diamond Country Club in Austria for the following week's European Amateur Team Championships.

"What can I sat about that," Lowry mused. "If it hadn't been for the Irish Open, God knows where I'd be now." 

Lowry said he could understand why the European Tour is giving its members priority as it fills out the 156 strong field for its $7m Rolex Series event.

But the GUI’s CEO Pat Finn revealed yesterday that it mutually agreed with the Tour not to take up invitations this year due to the date clash.

“The conversation wasn’t one of ‘we have no spots for amateurs’,” Finn said, adding that the GUI would keen to take up Irish Open invitations in future, should dates change and that the Tour was open to requests for invitations for other non-clashing European Tour events."

With no amateurs using up spots, the way is clear for the European Tour to award two places to Team Ireland golfers with Gary Hurley and Chris Selfridge at the top of the queue.