Despite rollercoaster outing, Shane Lowry knows he belongs in high company
Offaly man believes putting is preventing him from reaching Top 50 in the world
Shane Lowry hits his tee shot on the ninth hole during the first round of the PGA Championship in Rochester, New York. Photograph: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
He has gone beyond the stage of pinching himself to make sure it’s not all a dream. These days, he knows it is all for real. And, yet, there are times when Shane Lowry takes a moment to breathe and to smell the roses.
Yesterday, in the final round of the 95th US PGA Championship, was one such occasion. As he stood on the 12th green, contemplating a birdie putt, the Offaly man stood back, arms clasped, as he cast an eye over to the nearby third green where Tiger Woods was eyeing up a putt of his own.
In the silence, there was further realisation that these are the shoulders his own are rubbing. “It was pretty cool to be waiting for Tiger to hit a shot. I still think he is God, and it is great to be playing in the same tournaments as him and competing against him. If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be making the money that we are,” said Lowry.
Now, and increasingly, Lowry knows and believes he belongs in such company.
Jekyll and Hyde
Lowry’s finishing effort at this latest Major outing was something of a rollercoaster with five birdies along with a double-bogey and four bogeys in a closing 71 for 287, seven-over-par. The double came on the Par 3 15th, where his tee shot found a bunker and, after splashing out to 12 feet, he three-putted with a blade that had a touch of Jekyll and Hyde about it. Hot. Cold. Unpredictable.
When Lowry returns to his home in Carton House this week, before heading over to next week’s Johnnie Walker championship in Gleneagles, it is putting that will occupy the majority of his time. “My game is very close to being very, very good. I think 90 per cent of it is good and I have to work on that other 10 per cent. I really feel like I can push towards another win in the next few months and that will hopefully cement my place in the top-50 in the world for the end of the year.”
He added: “I’m driving the ball well, and my iron play feels like it is as good as it has ever been. My wedge play hasn’t changed. When I miss a green, I still feel like I can get up and down every time. It’s when I’m giving myself those ten footers, hitting those good iron shots, I need to take advantage of that and knock those putts in.”
Getting into that world top-50 is one of his main goals; getting onto Europe’s Ryder Cup team for Gleneagles next year is another. Both, in a way, are interlocked. Anyone with serious ambitions of playing on Paul McGinley’s European team needs to be playing in the World Golf Championships with its limited fields and huge prize funds.
“I am not blowing my own trumpet here or anything but there is not many players in that top 50 in the world I feel like are better than me. I just need a couple of breaks here and there and get myself in there and I guarantee you I won’t be moving out of it,” said Lowry.