All Blacks clash high on Shane Lowry’s agenda in Dubai
Offaly golfer says he will be watching and is hoping for a late tee-time on Sunday
Shane Lowry is hoping for a high finish to boost his Race to Dubai rankings at the DP World Tour Championship this week. Photo: EPA
“I will 100 per cent watch Ireland and the All Blacks,” Lowry admitted, most probably in McGettigan’s JLT, as the golfer is a brand ambassador for the Irish hospitality company. “I will be watching it no matter what time I am playing at on Sunday.
“It’s not too bad, I will be in bed by 1am and hopefully I will have a late tee time. If I don’t have a late tee time I won’t be going that well, so I won’t be too bothered,” he smiled. A passionate sports fan, he is very popular with the Ireland rugby squad having given several clinics at Carton House over the years and also attends Leinster rugby matches when his schedule allows.
He’s here though to play golf and arrives in Dubai with momentum and form, even allowing for a disappointing weekend in the Nedbank Challenge, where he slipped from tournament contention after 36-holes to a tie for 35th place. “I had a great start (in South Africa) but I generally don’t really like the place; not as a place but as a golf course.
“It’s such a tough golf course off the tee and it is one of those where there are a lot of anxious tee shots. I have never had much success in the past, done alright there. I bogeyed the last two (holes) on Sunday if I had (managed) to par the last two it would have been a half decent week.”
His affinity for Dubai and the Greg Norman-designed Earth course in Jumeirah is reflected in the results; tied 19th in 2017 and tied second last year. The course suits his eye and his game when properly calibrated. The latter sentiment is the key this week.
“Yeah, I like Dubai, like coming here, like playing here, the weather’s perfect, it’s good. First things first, you don’t want too many early tee times round here so you need to go out and shoot a good score in the first round and that’s what I need to do because this golf course plays easier when it is windy in the afternoon.”
He tees off on Thursday at 9.25am local time in the company of Australia’s Lucas Herbert, so to fulfil his wish of availing of preferential conditions later in the day, he requires a fast start. “That’s the way I am looking at it this week. I just need to go out and try and shoot a half decent number on Thursday and take it from there.”
So will he draw on those positive memories from the last couple of years in Dubai? “You do and you don’t. I know I know how to get around this place so what it what I draw on.
“This is a golf course that doesn’t suit many people; the short hitters it definitely doesn’t suit because it is hard to get it around hitting long irons into these greens. You need to drive the ball long and straight. Hopefully I can figure it out over the next couple of days.”
There is an ancillary consideration for Lowry this week. The top 30 in the Race to Dubai after this season finale tournament automatically qualify for next year’s British Open Championship at Royal Portrush. “Yeah, I’d need a proper good week to get into the top 30. We’ll see.
“I just need to worry about Thursday first. I’ll probably need about €400,000 I’d say. I’m certainly not going out to finish (fourth or) fifth. I am going out to shoot the best scores I can and give myself a chance of winning.”