In 2019, Shane Lowry did what every golfer dreams of doing: he won a major golf tournament on home soil. In picking up the Claret Jug for winning the Open at Royal Portrush, the Irishman fulfilled a lifetime ambition.
Even though that six-shot victory over Ryder Cup team-mate Tommy Fleetwood remains his last tournament success, the County Offaly man has been in tremendous form, albeit without picking up a winner’s cheque.
He became the first player for 21 years to record back-to-back eagles on the Saturday in 2022's 150th Open at St Andrews, finished T-3 at the Masters earlier the same year, and climbed to 16th in the Official World Golf Rankings.
He’s played all over the world, but what’s the 35-year-old’s favorite course? He tells this to RSNG.com, along with how the pandemic affected his game and his feelings on LIV Golf…
RSNG You’ve really put yourself amongst the best players in the game in 2022, with some great results – how does that feel?
SHANE LOWRY, IRELAND’S PGA TOUR STAR “Yeah, I’ve been very happy with my form this year and although it tailed off slightly with me not making the FedEx Cup Playoffs, this season, I think I’ve competed well in many of the events.
“Even though Will Zalatoris wasn’t able to fulfill his place due to injury, I wasn’t able to slot into that place due to the PGA rules – but that’s fair enough, as I would rather be there on merit.
“I slipped down to 31st due a great up and down by Adam Scott at the 18th in the BMW Championship, so what can you do about that? That’s just the way it goes, and I will be trying my hardest to make it next season.”
RSNG While you may not have been successful this season, have you seen British and Irish golfers playing well?
SHANE LOWRY “Oh absolutely. Matt Fitzpatrick winning his first major at Brookline in the US Open was amazing to see and I don’t want to say I predicted that to happen, but when I played with him, he was on fire.
“That was in the opening two rounds of the Canadian Open which, funnily enough, Rory McIlroy won and we all thought that Rory was going to win the 150th Open at St Andrews, but it just wasn’t to be for him.
“I don’t think many European players were surprised that Fitzy was able to win a major – we’ve seen his game go up to another level recently. It may have been a shock for the Americans, but not for us.”
I don’t just play golf for the money – it’s about the privilege of being part of the sport
RSNG You recently said that the PGA Tour players are fed up with everyone talking about LIV Golf. Is it frustrating?
SHANE LOWRY “Oh, absolutely. It’s nicer when we’re asked questions about the golf we’ve just played or the round we’re about to play and I’ve personally gotten to the point where I can’t be bothered discussing it, anymore.
“I mean, I get why people are asking and stuff, but personally, it doesn’t concern me after I’ve answered once or twice. Good luck to the players who are going and taking the money.
“I don’t need the extra cash, at all. My family is well taken care of and I’m so happy they have the life I’ve been able to provide through golf, which I never would have thought would have been possible.
“I don’t just play golf for the money. It’s about the privilege of being part of the sport and the PGA Tour has rewarded my game fantastically. I want to win events and have that prize of a trophy.”
RSNG You’ve spoken in the past about the galleries on the PGA Tour being so good – is that another reason you enjoy that competition so much?
SHANE LOWRY “The crowds in the PGA are great, yeah. I love playing all of the different events around the Tour and I’m sure the other players would say the same. The support we get is incredible and long may that continue.”
RSNG Where would you say is your favorite course, if you have one?
SHANE LOWRY “Obviously, I love the majors and I loved playing back at Portrush [Ireland] and not just because I won [laughs]! There’s one course I love which may not be the first if people tried to guess – it’s the RBC Heritage [Harbour Town Golf Links].
“A lot of players on the Tour actually like playing there and I’m no different. For me, it’s because the course suits my game as I like to hit drives underneath the wind and if you keep the ball at the level of the trees, that helps.
“It can get quite windy there, although you can’t usually feel it at ground level, so you can make it work to your advantage without getting blown about too much.
“It usually comes up as the very next event after the Masters and if you’ve had a good week at Augusta, you can go to the Heritage feeling confident and knowing there’s another beautiful course to play, with conditions that will test you, but also work in your favor if you’re smart enough to solve the equation, so to speak.
“I’ve not yet managed to win there, but in 2022, I was one shot off the playoffs after playing in the final pairing on Sunday with Harold Varner. But it just wasn’t meant to be there after the double bogey at the par-3 14th.”
I’m old enough to learn nothing stays the same in life – you just have to see how changes pan out.
RSNG Was there a tinge of sadness when the Open 2020 was canceled due to covid, with you being denied a natural defense of the Claret Jug you won in 2019?
SHANE LOWRY “I knew it wasn’t my fault and I was able to try and defend it in 2021 at Royal St George’s, where I made the weekend but just didn’t have enough to win it for the second time.
“It was a pressure that I hadn’t felt before because obviously it was the first time that I had won a major when I won The Open at Portrush. I had defended events before, so I just had to keep telling myself it was another tournament.
“Clearly, The Open is not just another event and it was great to get back out there in front of crowds – not full capacity – but playing with galleries there was really cool, I enjoyed that.
“As for covid, we are golfers and we suffered probably less than most, so I can’t ever complain about that.”
RSNG Is it possible that your dip in form over the covid period had something to do with having no fans in attendance – you often say you feed off the crowd?
SHANE LOWRY “Listen, I’m not one to make excuses or blame other things out of my control for any time that I don’t play as well as I would like to, as much as I would like to [laughs]!
“But genuinely, I am the type of person who does like the traditional side of professional golf where there are people there and it did almost feel like a ghost town when it was just the players, caddies and stuff.
“The funny thing was that I was able to practice a lot, and my game was great. Which is always the way, isn’t it. But for some reason that I couldn’t put my finger on, it went missing when I got back on Tour.
“I’m just glad we have our game back and I can focus on pushing on. We have new elements coming into play, such as LIV, so it will be interesting to see how things evolve.
“I’m old enough to learn nothing stays the same in life – you just have to see how changes pan out.”
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