Shane Lowry is getting used to being the top man

Fri, May 15, 2009, 01:00

PHILIP REIDfollows amateur Shane Lowry in the first round at Baltray as the son of Offaly GAA legend Brendan starts another Lowry dynasty

IN AND around Ferbane, and even further afield, you’d still hear people refer to Brendan Lowry as “a legend”.

Rightly so, considering the part he played in Offaly’s All-Ireland football win in 1982 – depriving Kerry of a historic five-in-a-row.

But these days a new sporting dynasty has emerged in the Lowry household and it’s the feats of son, Shane, which tend to set tongues wagging. Rightly so, too.

Yesterday, as is his way, 22-year-old Shane Lowry went about his business without fuss. One of four amateurs invited to rub shoulders for a week with the sport’s millionaires, Lowry – who is expected to make his Walker Cup debut at the famed Merion club later this season before himself switching to the professional ranks – produced further evidence that his game is one that belongs at this exalted level.

In shooting a 67, five under, Lowry not only went some way towards ticking off a box on his wish list coming here, which was “to make the cut”, he also threw himself into the mix.

Who knows what can happen from now on in?

What Lowry did yesterday was to show how good he is, and what he is capable of doing.

“It was one of those days and I hope Colin Dalgleish was watching on TV,” quipped Lowry, referring to the Britain and Ireland Walker Cup captain.

If he wasn’t, word will surely find its way back.

Lowry, the Irish Close champion in 2007 and currently 16th in the amateur world rankings, has been the leading light in the amateur game here since Rory McIlroy moved to the professional ranks with a list of achievements as long as his arm.

Although Lowry hasn’t matched those records, his is nevertheless an impressive roll of honour in its own right, having led Ireland to victory in the European and Home International championships.

And there was a sense that the links at Baltray owed him something.

A couple of years ago, his clubs were stolen from the car park here during an East of Ireland championship.

Lowry, though, has no hard feelings; indeed, there is nothing but affection for the Co Louth club where he has twice finished third in the East.

Yesterday, Lowry’s round caught fire on the 14th, his fifth. He made the journey from the 13th green – where he had three-putted for a second bogey in four holes – to the high 14th tee giving himself a talking too.

The theme of the self-analysis was to ensure there would be no more “silly mistakes”. There weren’t, with Lowry proceeding to turn his round around with a run of three successive birdies from there.

Although the hot streak came to an end with a par on the 17th, Lowry regained his touch on the front nine – his homeward run – with four further birdies and not a single dropped shot. The birdies came on the second, third, sixth and ninth holes. He played the three par fives in that stretch immaculately.

On the second, he found the green with a three-iron approach; he only required a seven-iron for his second into the third, and then hit driver-driver to set up a pitch and putt birdie on the sixth.

“I was playing for a par but the pitch came out really well and landed soft and rolled up for a gimme.”

On the ninth, his final hole, he hit a lobwedge to six feet and made the putt.

“I’ve played the East here three times and, to be honest, it is nearly easier this week than it would be (during that championship).

“For example, I hit it down the right at the last but that’s where the crowd were walking and I got a decent lie and was able to hit a four-iron in. In the East, you’d get a bad lie. I suppose those are the joys of pro golf.”

Lowry, a plus-five handicapper, had better get used to it. His plan is to go to the European Tour Q-School after the Walker Cup at Merion in August and attempt to get his tour card. This has given him a taste of what to expect.

“I got off to a shaky start but I was trying to enjoy myself more than anything else. I came here to make the cut and to see what happens after that.”