Lowry sets sights on Ballymena ahead of Irish Open at Galgorm Castle

‘I’m going to go out there and give it my best when it comes to it’, says Irish golfer

 Shane Lowry: ‘I’ve played some good golf [at the US Open].’ Photograph: Gregory Shamus/Getty

Shane Lowry: ‘I’ve played some good golf [at the US Open].’ Photograph: Gregory Shamus/Getty

 

If a little beat up at times by the course, Shane Lowry nevertheless escaped the torture chamber with his mind and body intact: no sooner had the British Open champions signed off his interest in the 120th US Open at Winged Foot in New York than the 32-year-old Offalyman was casting his sights elsewhere, homeward bound in fact after a seven-month stint stateside.

Lowry – who closed out with a 72 for a 15-over-par total of 295 – will extend his competitive diary for another week, providing the headline act for this week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Galgorm Castle, before finally getting some family time away from the course.

If it may seem strange for Lowry to be, as he put it, turning left out of Dublin Airport to point the GPS for the route to Ballymena rather than turning right for his home, he was intent on taking the positives away with him: “I was happier with my game than my score suggests. I made a bit of a disaster [on Saturday] and had a bit of a bad run in the first round, but other than that, for I’d say three-quarters of the golf tournament, I played as good as I can. I’ve played some good golf.”

Positives

Indeed, there was plenty of evidence to back up his assertion that the glass should be half-full rather than half-empty, as his final round on the tough West Course produced four birdies to go with six bogeys, which started with a dropped shot on the first hole as he was distracted by a moving volunteer as he teed-off.

Anyway, Lowry was more inclined to focus on the positives. “My short game was good, my putting was good, I’ve found a driver that I liked, drove the ball well. Yeah, overall I was happier than my score suggests.”

The West Course, though, did manage to inflict some wounds over the four days. “It’s just so difficult. Every time I hit it in the rough, and then I got frustrated watching the golf in the afternoons when I (went) home because every time I see people in the rough they’re hitting it on the greens and every time I hit it in the rough I can’t seem to get anywhere near the green,” he said.

Lowry, due to head directly to Galgorm Castle where he will join the European Tour “bubble” for an Irish Open that will also be played behind closed doors, has had a tough schedule through the late-summer and into the autumn on the PGA Tour and aims to recharge the batteries with some rest before playing what may be his only tournament in Europe.

“A week like this really takes it out of you, so it is important to rest up over the next few days. I might get a few holes practice in at some stage but I’m not going to do too much. I’m going to go out there and give it my best when it comes to it on Thursday (at Galgorm Castle). I’ll be looking forward to it and I want to do well,” said Lowry, who has a special affinity with the Irish Open given that it propelled him from amateur into a superb professional career following his win in 2009 at Baltray.

Late intervention

Lowry, indeed, wasn’t the only player to depart Winged Foot with the Co Antrim course on their next destination list. Thailand’s Jazz Janewattanond, Frenchman Victor Perez, New Zealander Ryan Fox, South African Justin Harding and Scotland’s Connor Syme also headed in that direction.

Add another name, that of James Sugrue. Interestingly, it took the interjection of Lee Westwood – who played the first two rounds at Winged Foot with the British Amateur champion – to secure a late invitation for Sugrue, after Westwood wondered why he wasn’t in the field.

After finishing his second round, Sugrue had addressed the matter. “I thought I had done enough to warrant an invitation. Obviously, it is not my decision. I don’t know whose decision it is or who hands out invitations.”

Someone in the European Tour opened their ears and listened, and the Corkman – along with Tom McKibbin and Mark Power – will make up the trio of amateurs in the Irish Open field.

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