Shane Lowry: Experience will put a fire in my belly for the next time
‘I’d give anything to have those last five holes at the US Open in Oakmont back again’
Dustin Johnson poses with the winner’s trophy after winning the US Open as Shane Lowry looks on. Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images
The last few days have been tough. It’s hard to explain but I keep replaying last Sunday’s final round of the US Open in my head, thinking of different shots I could have hit and the “ifs,” “buts” and “maybes”. I’d give anything to have those last five holes back again, to somehow go back in time and play them differently. I know I can’t, I know that’s not the way it works.
It’s all a bit raw, and I’m still hurting. I’m trying not to beat myself up too much. I keep telling myself that it was one of the best weeks of my career because now I really know that I am well capable of winning a Major; and Oakmont is probably the toughest course we play in the Majors.
I played lovely for three rounds, putted lovely and can’t remember a bad iron shot. Every shot went pretty much where I was aiming. I felt so much in control.
Even on Sunday, I was hitting decent shots, I just wasn’t hitting great shots.
They were just okay, and I was leaving myself 30-footers with a lot of break which was tough and eventually it caught up with me.
Technically, with all the confusion about whether or not Dustin Johnson was getting a penalty, I was actually one ahead playing the 14th. I didn’t know that.
At the time, I didn’t think the whole rules thing affected me at all but, looking back on it, perhaps it did. I thought I was two behind with three to play, when I was on the 16th tee, and really I was only one behind him.
He felt that Dustin probably could have argued his case a bit better with the USGA after his round. I actually spoke to Pádraig Harrington about it too, and, like Lee, he felt the same way. It didn’t make any difference to the result so Dustin accepted it and probably wanted to get out and enjoy the moment.
I didn’t enjoy the moment too much when it was all over, although, as my friends have been pointing out to me in the past few days, there were a lot of positives. Like, the way I played 17 and 18 made sure I was tied second. If I hadn’t holed that putt on 17 and finished par-par and instead had finished fifth or something I’d have been bitterly disappointed altogether.
But I made sure I was second and I’m back in Ryder Cup contention, I’ve moved up the Race to Dubai and FedEx Cup rankings and I’ve moved up the world rankings.
If you look back at golfing history, there are many cases of players who had to learn the hard way. People have pointed to Payne Stewart, Mike Weir, Rory McIlroy and others.
But there’s the other way too, a lot of guys who won at their first time of really contending. I’d say it’s 50/50. So, it could have been done.
When I do win my first Major it will definitely be a week that stands out and I can go, ‘I learned a lot there’.
And because I had that game in Royal Dublin on Monday I didn’t really get a chance to think about post mortems or what had happened until Tuesday.
I was lying in bed on Tuesday morning and I’d all sorts of emotions running through my head. I wasn’t feeling great at all. I’d left one of my bags in Royal Dublin the day before so myself and Wendy went out to collect it, went for a walk on Dollymount Strand and out to Howth for a coffee. It was nice to get back to normal.
Now I know that I will learn from it all, that if I just bottle up those feelings because the next time I am in that position in a Major I definitely don’t want to feel those again. The experience will put a fire in my belly for the next time.
I’m sure there’ll be a bit of expectation on me after Oakmont and I need to tone that back and go out and keep doing what I have been doing. It’s a golf course I really like.
This is a big few weeks coming up with Akron, the Scottish Open and the British Open in successive weeks and then the US PGA two weeks after that. Next week, though, is about the Bridgestone and the course is not dissimilar to Oakmont. It’s not straightforward, and that’s something I like. I’m looking forward to get back out playing and taking the positives from the US Open with me.