Shane Lowry benefits from some quiet moments of reflection

Talking-to by caddie Dermot Byrne gives Irish star reassurance about his game

How to declutter your mind? Some quiet moments of reflection did the trick for Shane Lowry. After all the hours spent on the range, all the time spent on the golf course, all it took was 30 minutes to himself – after Thursday's opening round – for the Offaly man to realise that he wasn't actually doing too much wrong out on the course. Instead of fighting matters, he decided to roll with the punches. It had an immediate result.

In yesterday’s second round of the European Tour’s flagship tournament, one with a pot of gold in terms of prize money, Lowry bounced back from an opening 74 to sign for a bogey-free 67 to leapfrog up the leaderboard with all the agility of a gazelle. In all, he jumped 64 places from a place outside the cut line to move into a position, tied 17th, to contend.

No dark clouds around his head outside the recorder’s cabin this time, rather a broad smile breaking out through the facial hair.

World against him

On Thursday, it had felt as if the whole world was against him. When he reached the locker room, his caddie,

Dermot Byrne

, gave the golfer what Lowry recalled as “a good talking-to”, adding: “The old me would have probably ended up going to the range and hitting 50 balls into the evening and it would have been worse, beating my head against a brick wall . . . He knows I’m quite close to being where I want to be.”

As it was, Lowry – runner-up here a year ago to Rory McIlroy – resisted any temptation to head to the range after the first round. Instead, taking Byrne’s advice, to returned to his hotel. There, the more he thought about things and analysed the state of his game, the more he realised a good score wasn’t actually too far away.

Yesterday, he returned to the course and improved by seven strokes on his first day’s effort. He’d rolled with the punches, grinded to make par saves when he’d had to, and delivered his own jabs to claim five birdies.

Two of those birdies came on the two par-threes on the front nine, with an eight-iron to eight feet on the second and a five-iron to three feet on the fifth. “I’ve got these new irons and I hit this one up in the air and it stopped, quite soft, lovely,” said Lowry of that shot to the fifth.


In truth, it was vindication of his mindset, to trust himself.

“I’m maturing a lot more, getting older and hopefully wiser,” he said. “The last few months have been quite frustrating. Since Doral [in March], I haven’t played that well. You have to take it on the chin and just keep going . . . I feel I should be coming here and competing, and that’s why I got frustrated [on Thursday]. I don’t want to be going out there and finishing 30th; that’s not why I’m here. I want to be going out giving myself chances to win.”

He added: “If I do that between now and the end of the season, hopefully I will win one or two. My goal is to win more. If I put my mind down to it and stay out of my own way a little bit more, just let it happen . . . ”

So now, with the cut made and upward movement, Lowry can focus on gaining further momentum on the West Course over the weekend as he seeks to chase down Francesco Molinari.

There is the added bonus in that he doesn’t have to have one eye on qualifying for the US Open. That job is a done deal, off the world rankings. As he walked on to a tee box coming in yesterday, he turned to bag man Byrne.

"Jeez, Dermot, I'm really glad we're not going to Walton Heath [for qualifying] on Monday," he said to him.

Lowry, currently 55th in the world rankings, wants to move back into the top 50, and further up. “I want to cement my place because it’s great to be in all these tournaments,” he said. “Even for the ranking points, if you do well in a US Open, it is massive. And if you’re not in, you can’t win.”

Same thing here. Lowry’s second round has moved him to within striking distance, just like a year ago. Deja vu? Perhaps.