Shane Lowry feeling very much at home on Hoylake’s links terrain

In-form Offalyman sees no reason why he can’t be a Major contender at the British Open

Shane Lowry  waits on the 14th green during a practice round ahead of the British Open  at  Royal Liverpool GC in Hoylake. Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters

Shane Lowry waits on the 14th green during a practice round ahead of the British Open at Royal Liverpool GC in Hoylake. Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters

Shane Lowry ponders the three -word

question, one hand raising the baseball cap further up on his head, gently exhaling and killing time before responding.

“Can you win?” is the question.

It is considered by the Offalyman, who is appearing in his third British Open. He knows the answer straight away but is in no rush to reply. He analyses the weight of its meaning before, finally, responding with conviction. “There’s no reason why not,” he says.

Why not, indeed?

Lowry is on something of a roll. Two successive made cuts – for tied-12th in the BMW International and tied-fourth in last week’s Scottish Open – constitute momentum for Lowry, in a season where he missed the cut in six of his first eight starts.

There is more to it that simple results, though. There is something in the air.

Very good

For, when he’s been good, he’s very good. And, now up to 68th in the latest world rankings, and on the fringes of qualifying for the Ryder Cup, Lowry – who was runner-up to Rory McIlroy in the BMW PGA championship at Wentworth in May – is back on his favoured golfing landscape.

At home on links terrain, Lowry relishes such tests. There is an onus on a player to play with feel, and to use imagination as much as yardage books. And he knows how to get the deal done on links, as he proved in winning the Irish Open – as an amateur – in 2009.

More recently, he contended in the Dunhill Links last October, one that got away; and he left Royal Aberdeen on Sunday knowing he’d been closer than the final numbers indicated.

“My game is good. I’ve got to get out there and try not to put too much pressure on myself. Because I’ve been playing well,

“I have been getting texts from people saying, ‘I’m going to back you, you’ve gone in from this price to that price’ and ‘I think you’re going to do well this week’. So, I just have to try and put all that out of my head, just simplify everything and try and get on with my own thing.”

To do that, Lowry is looking to find a balance. Not to dampen expectations too much, and not to raise them too highly.

“There’s a fine line, because I know I can do well. I know I can put myself in a good position here come the weekend. I’ve played quite well the last couple of weeks but it’s important for me not to get too high this week and try too hard.”

Lowry has links in his blood and, of all the Majors, this is one that excites him. “I get onto a golf course like this, no matter what tournament it is, and feel comfortable hitting shots and feel comfortable in the surroundings. If there’s a bit of a bad weather, I’ll feel comfortable in that too. I feel way more comfortable here than I do at the likes of the US Open.”

Firm fairways

For this week, as last, Lowry has a three-iron in his bag instead of a rescue club –he feels it’s more suited to downwind tee shots on firm fairways. The job, for everyone, is to stay out of the rough and the sand traps.

“I think if you can stay above ground and avoid the bunkers this week you’re doing okay . . . . it’s no beast or anything, there’s a score out there if you play well. But if you don’t play well, it can jump up and grab you.”

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