Shane Lowry impresses on final round
Offaly man has started to think about a place on Ryder Cup team
Shane Lowry celebrates his birdie on the 18th during day four of the British Open Championship at Hoylake. Photograph: PA.
Golf can be a curious, perplexing sport as Shane Lowry discovered yesterday. His last act on the driving range before starting the biggest round of his career was to snap-hook a drive so badly that he immediately gave the club to his caddie Dermot Byrne in utter frustration and walked off.
There followed a cup of coffee and a chat with his coach Neil Manchip in the players’ lounge. What happened next? Well, the 27-year-old Offaly man proceeded to conquer the Royal Liverpool links with a course-record equalling 65 for 278, 10 under par, that gave him a best-ever finish in a Major in a share of ninth place. It secures his exemption to next year’s Open at St Andrews.
“I was fuming leaving the range. I didn’t hit a good shot [there]. My last shot was a low snap-hook with my driver. Thankfully, I hit it a little straighter than I did on the range . . . . I sat down with Neil, just picked small targets on every shot and that seemed to work,” said Lowry.
Putting wellAnd work it certainly did: Lowry played superbly, hitting his tee shots crisply – hitting 11 of 14 fairways – and his approach shots with accuracy, finding 16 of 18 greens in regulation.
He also putted well, even if one or two somehow failed to drop. All in all, it was an impressive final round that saw Lowry go up the leaderboard.
Apart from the first hole, Lowry gave himself birdie chances on every hole on the front nine but could only managed successful conversions on the second, fifth and ninth to turn in 32. On the homeward run, he garnered further birdies on the 10th, 15th, 16th and 18th.
In terms of his development, it was an important round for Lowry. To go out on a Sunday of a Major and to produce the goods. It has whetted his appetite for more. “I’m very comfortable in these surroundings. I love links golf. Hopefully I’m going to play another 15 or 20 Opens in my career. I think I could do it [win] down the line. If I give myself the chance to do it, I know I can [perform] on Sundays.”
Lowry – who is also assured of his place in the field for the upcoming US PGA Championship at Valhalla in three weeks’ time – earned some precious Ryder Cup points too from his top-10 finish here, but admitted that he would have to deliver a big performance in Kentucky if he were to force his way onto the European team.
Of that Ryder Cup, Lowry admitted: “I’d have to do something extra special over there [in the PGA] to even have a half a sniff of getting near the team. I haven’t thought about it all year. I’m not going to start thinking about it now.”
Graeme McDowell, who certainly has the Ryder Cup on his mind, confirmed his current good form with a finishing 67 to join Lowry on 278. The Ulster man eagled the 18th hole but nevertheless felt it was an opportunity missed.
“I said at the start of the week that this was my type of venue. Not super long, not a lot of advantage for the big boys to take trouble out of play.
“But could I have caught him? I don’t know. I’d like to have had a shout, though. But Thursday [shooting 74] was a killer blow,” said McDowell.