A refreshed Shane Lowry sets his eyes on the Ryder Cup
Post by golf journalist Kieran Clark
Two months removed from his monumental breakthrough victory at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, Shane Lowry returns to competitive play after a six week break for this week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland. That time away from the spotlight of the game has been spent usefully by the 28-year-old, with a much needed period of recharging and internal reassessment ahead of the upcoming and lucrative Final Series that will culminate in Dubai.
Lowry’s exhilarating triumph at Firestone betrayed the unrivalled tedium of the host course, having produced a number of miraculous recoveries to finish two shots ahead of double-Masters champion Bubba Watson. An achievement of that magnitude opens a number of alluring doors for any player, with status on the PGA Tour and guaranteed participation into the majors assured for 2016. With the clock showing 12 months from the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, and qualification surely now among his newly stated leading objectives, the lad from County Offaly has a promising platform to build on.
Lowry claimed the biggest win of his career at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational
“I’ve been able to take a few weeks off and I’ve enjoyed my win, and then I’ve decided to get back and reassess and try to set some goals going forward,” Lowry said to the assembled media in St. Andrews in his pre-tournament press conference.
Accepting that there can be a hangover from such a milestone (not literally, of course), Lowry admitted that settling down mentally had been a test. “When something like that happens, (it’s) tough to get my head around. It would be easy for me to sit back the rest of the year, say I’ve won a massive tournament and sit back at Christmas and be happy with that.”
There is now an obvious eagerness to potentially add some more prestigious titles before the calendar year draws to a close - starting with this week’s showpiece at the Home of Golf. “I’m kind of looking forward and looking to do a few more things in the next few weeks and I’m hoping to see another win,” added Lowry.
The jovial and immensely proud Irishman’s elevation into the game’s elite – now ranked 21st in the world – didn’t come as a surprise to close observers, with his natural touch and flair for the game long being evidenced since his stunning victory in the Irish Open as an amateur six years ago. In the best possible sense, Lowry is a throwback, with a less mechanical approach than many of his peers.
Perhaps that was an asset during the U.S. Open in June, where the three-time European Tour winner found himself in the heat of contention on the final day. Chambers Bay was a controversial and somewhat grandiose venue for a major championship, but proved to be a compatible partner with Lowry’s undoubted golfing imagination, just as it should on the Old Course, which has begun to firm up in unseasonably warm and pleasant conditions.
Having been removed from competitive action for a significant period, it isn’t easy for a player to jump straight back into the fold, but Lowry is convinced that the layoff will stand him well in the coming months. “I do feel like my hunger is back, and that’s kind of what I wanted to get after a few weeks off. Sometimes when you go through a long season and after a win like this, if you keep playing, golf can kind of catch up with you and you can get burned out. I’m hoping (the time off) will stand me not only this week but when it comes to the end of the year and the Race to Dubai.”
Looking ahead in the longer term, the confidence that has been accrued from Akron is also a useful tool that Lowry has at his disposal. Though always believing that he had the potential to claim such an important title, possessing the knowledge that you’ve actually done it is a game changer.
“It was amazing, to win a tournament like that against those players down the stretch. It’s going to give you a lot of confidence going forward. And when I’m in that position again, I know I can do it.”
Conceding that the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles perhaps came a year too early for him, Lowry is determined to be one of Darren Clarke’s 12 players during next September’s showpiece. Now with the ability to plan a busy schedule on both sides of the Atlantic, he now has an excellent opportunity to make his debut against the United States in 2016.
“I feel like a year later, I can make the next team and I really want to (qualify) and that’s probably my main goal for the next five months. I can have a plan going forward (next year) and that’s the big thing for me. It’s great to be able to do that. I feel like you have to be in all the big tournaments (to qualify for the Ryder Cup) and hopefully I’ll be there next year.”
All of that may come in the future, but the important work begins for Lowry on Thursday with a morning tee time on the legendary Championship Course at Carnoustie.
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