Burden of Irish expectations falls on Lowry’s shoulders
Offalyman’s early advance spurs on course leaders at Carton House
A smiling Shane Lowry on the first at the final day of the Irish Open, in Carton House. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times
There is a kind of cheer that resonates around a windy golf course that tells you something is happening - or as anyone under 25 might say: “like, REALLY happening”.
There was such a roar on the fifth when Shane Lowry holed a biggie to go seven under. It was a long range putt - the sort of long range that defeated Leigh Halfpenny the day before in a different setting.
The roar turned heads on the other 17 holes and more than a few in the press centre. Lowry’s early advance on the leaders, before they even teed off, put the wind up them. Not that he needed to try hard as the stiff westerly seemed to notch up another mark on the Beaufort scale each time the pride of Offaly edged further under par.
Edging further out of the limelight meanwhile was Rory McIlroy, still misfiring and still talking positively about his game. Having missed the cut on Friday, he resorted to Twitter to offer his farewells to Kildare and his thank-yous. He has two weeks to get sorted before the next major.
Lowry meanwhile slipped up on the back nine, but finished the 72nd in style to earn another of those roars from the crowd.
The Big Four with seven Major titles between them - Rory, Darren, Graeme and Padraig - found themselves doing other things for the weekend. And so the crowd placed the significant burden of Irish expectation on Lowry’s round shoulders. It takes a lot to make him buckle, but he finished on the right note.
“What a difference a day makes,” he said. Maybe somebody should write a song about it.
“I went out yesterday and a tried a bit hard. I was doing my best to give this great crowd something to cheer about today.”
He did - and so did they. “They have just been roaring for me, every single one of them. I owe a lot to them.”
Not that that was the end of it from a home perspective.
Gareth Shaw defied the breeze and a sense of pessimism you get with two bogeys on the first two holes to find a storming finish.
He fired the final 16 holes in five under par and leaving him well placed for a place in the next tour event in Paris.
Can’t be bad if you started the week ranked 1,165th in the world. Sorry, make that joint 1,165th.