Shane Lowry bore the weight of expectations well, as the 32-year-old Offalyman continued his recent run of good form with an opening round 66, four-under-par, that immediately put him into contention in the DDF Irish Open at sun-kissed Lahinch.
One of the only distractions incurred in his round came as he approached the 18th green, where a climate change protest was briefly staged and a banner unfurled. “I just hung back, didn’t want to be in any photos,” said Lowry, who retained his composure to two-putt for a closing birdie on the Par 5 having reached the green in two.
Lowry's 66 left him a shot adrift of clubhouse leaders Wade Ormsby, Mike Lorenzo Vera, Hyown Park, Lee Slattery and Thorbjorn Olesen. "It was one of my more enjoyable four or five hours on a course. I didn't feel I played great but I managed it in the right spots. It's not easy out there. I know there's not windy but it is tricky ," he explained.
“There have been certain weeks over the last while I shot myself in the foot the first round. It was nice to get out there and shoot a good score. I’m not going to lie, I was feeling a bit uneasy this morning, a bit anxious, wanting to get out there and get off to a decent start and I did, so I’m very happy right.
“If it wasn’t the Irish Open this week, I’d be feeling great about coming here and trying to win. Because it’s the Irish Open, with that added pressure, doesn’t mean it should be any other way.”
A three-putt bogey on the third was Lowry’s only bogey and came as a wake-up call. He responded with five birdies on the rest of his card, getting off the mark with a 20-footer on the Par 3 fifth and producing further birdies at the ninth, 12th, 14th and the 18th.
“I think I scored quite well today and that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been not getting too down on myself with bad shots, and just getting on with things. You know, mentally I’ve been in a great place the last six or eight months. I had it out there today and hopefully I have the rest of the week,” said Lowry, who headed to the range to hit “15 or 20 balls” to wind down.