Shane Lowry’s Tshwane Open challenge hits early snag

Dawie van der Walt prepares to defend his title and maintain the dominance of South African players on home soil

Shane Lowry leads the Irish challenge this weekend at the Tshwane Open in Centurion.

Shane Lowry leads the Irish challenge this weekend at the Tshwane Open in Centurion.

Wed, Feb 26, 2014, 20:16

Former Irish Open champion Shane Lowry leads the Irish challenge this weekend in the Tshwane Open at the Copperleaf Golf and Country Estate in Centurion despite British Airways misplacing his golf clubs.

The Offaly man spent €4,850 for his flight to South Africa but was shocked to discover that his most important piece of luggage was missing on arrival.

He took to twitter to blast the airline: “Would like to thank @British_Airways for yet again losing my clubs. Ah well at least I didn’t pay 4k for my ticket.... Oh wait... I did ??” The incident comes 11 months after his clubs were lost ahead of his appearance at the Shell Houston Open.

It’s not the ideal preparation for Lowry, as Dawie van der Walt prepares to defend his title and maintain the dominance of South African players on home soil.

Thomas Aiken’s victory in the Africa Open a fortnight ago means 10 of the last 13 European Tour events staged in South Africa have been won by home players, including five of the seven held so far this season.

Van der Walt won his maiden European Tour title in the inaugural Tshwane Open 12 months ago and also triumphed at the Nelson Mandela Championship in December, but does not know how he will respond to the pressure of being defending champion.

“This is the first time I am defending so I don’t really know what it’s like,” Van der Walt told the European Tour podcast.

“We will see how I deal with the pressure of defending,” he added.

Gareth Maybin, Damien McGrane, Peter Lawrie, Michael Hoey and Kevin Phelan complete a strong Irish challenge.