Rory McIlroy may influence Koepka into playing Irish Open

Shane Lowry to make season debut at Torrey Pines where Harrington also lines up

Phoenix Open winner Brooks Koepka has been “picking the brain” of “unbelievable” McIlroy. Photograph: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Phoenix Open winner Brooks Koepka has been “picking the brain” of “unbelievable” McIlroy. Photograph: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

 

Although Koepka – who cut his teeth as a young professional on the Challenge Tour in Europe before graduating to the main circuits – is committed to keeping tour cards on both sides of the Atlantic, and more than likely will include the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in his schedule, it remains to be seen if he will join Rickie Fowler in playing in the following week’s Irish Open.

One thing is for sure, Koepka is an admirer of the world number one. “He’s been, I don’t want to say someone you can look up to a little bit, because, first off, he’s an unbelievable player . . . I’ve been kind of picking his brain, watching how he goes about things and how fearless he is. I’m just trying to learn a little from watching him play. It’s been a big help,” said Koepka, who jumped 14 places to a career-best 19th in the world rankings following his success in Phoenix.

Young guns

In the Turkish Airlines Open at the tail end of last season, Koepka outlasted Ian Poulter – and, in the process, ensured the absent McIlroy captured the Race to Dubai before the final counting event – while, in Phoenix, Bubba Watson was among those left in his wake.

Koepka doesn’t lack for drive or ambition.

“I want to be the best player in the world. I’m not there yet, and I know it’s going to take time, but I want to get to that point,” he said after securing success in Phoenix.

He will seek to make it back-to-back wins on tour in this week’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, where Dustin Johnson makes his return to competition following a break from the sport.

Irish men

Shane Lowry

For Lowry, who is making his first start of the season, it marks a run of tournaments that take him up to a maiden appearance in the Masters in April. The Offaly golfer – who is ranked 44th in the world – doesn’t have a PGA Tour card and is relying on sponsor’s invites.

So far, he has invites to Torrey Pines, next week’s AT&T pro-am in Pebble Beach and the Valero Texas Open in the run-up to Augusta. He is also assured of a start in the WGC-Cadillac championship at Doral next month.

Graeme McDowell, who secured a top-10 finish behind winner McIlroy in Dubai, has moved on to the Far East to compete in the Malaysian Open.

The Ulster man is joined in the field by Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley and Peter Lawrie – both playing on sponsor’s invites – and Michael Hoey. Damien McGrane is first reserve and must wait to see if anyone drops out for whatever reason.

Lawrie, who lost his tour card last year, made the most of invites into Dubai and Qatar by picking up paydays and the Dubliner has also looked for an invite into next week’s inaugural Thailand Championship.

His other route into the tournament in Thailand would be if he were to secure a top-five finish in Kuala Lumpur.

“It’s good to be going to a familiar tour stop like the Malaysian Open and a golf course I know reasonably well with renewed confidence,” said Lawrie, who played on the Asian Tour in his formative years on tour.

Seamus Power, meanwhile, is competing in the Colombia championship on the PGA’s web.com Tour. The Waterford man missed the cut by a shot in Panama last week, where Australian Matthew Goggin emerged as the winner.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.