Shane Lowry hopes to kick on after Abu Dhabi victory
Offalyman will almost certainly secure a place in the US Masters at Augusta in April
Shane Lowry celebrates victory in Abu Dhabi. Photograph: Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty
A stubbornly-executed win in Abu Dhabi which has changed so much in terms of where Shane Lowry is headed for the rest of the season, with all of the four Majors along with the WGCs pencilled into a revised playing schedule, isn’t set to alter any of the player’s personal goals.
As Lowry put it after claiming a fourth career win on tour and scooping a €1 million jackpot that propelled him to the top of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai order of merit, “I still have a goal in my head I’m working towards every day and just because I won (in Abu Dhabi) doesn’t mean I can take my foot off the gas. It’s a great stepping-stone, no doubt, because I’m back in the big tournaments now for the foreseeable future, and hopefully I can kick on from here and move back up the world rankings where I feel like I really belong.”
The immediate impact of Lowry’s victory - crowned with a closing birdie on the 18th hole, where his 281 yards 3-wood approach to find the green epitomised all of his fighting qualities under the cosh as he duelled with South African Richard Sterne - was to secure him places in the two upcoming WGCs, the Mexico Championship and the Dell Matchplay.
Of perhaps even greater significance is that Lowry is also into the field for The Players championship at Sawgrass, in its new March date, and - almost certainly - will secure a place at the US Masters at Augusta National in April.
Lowry is set to jump from 75th up to 41st when the latest official world rankings are released on Monday, which puts him firmly in control of his own destiny with regards to getting a place in the field for the Masters. The final cut-off for qualification for Augusta comes in the week before the season’s first Major, with those in the top-50 in the world assured of a place. “I’ll have to make sure I’m in that . . . it’s a very tight (schedule for the) next few months ahead for me.”
Having lost his full PGA Tour card last season, Lowry’s original schedule for 2019 had placed an increased emphasis on the European Tour. And he will seek to maintain his sizzling start to the season when he stays in the Middle East for this week’s tour stop at the Dubai Desert Classic and next week’s inaugural tournament in Saudi Arabia.
However, proposed visits to play in Malaysia and Qatar will be dropped now that he has made it into the WGCs. “I set my schedule at the start of the year and I said if I change it, it’s going to be for the better. I’m going to be in México and I’m going to be in the Matchplay.”
Lowry, in fact, is now in a very strong position to play in all four of this season’s Majors. While the top-50 cut-off for the Masters comes in the first week of April, he is assured of a spot in the US PGA at Bethpage Black in New York (with the top-100 off the world rankings getting into the season’s second Major in its new May date), while the US Open gives entry to those ranked in the top-60 in the world.
The one he most wants to play, though, is the British Open at Royal Portrush in July and Lowry has opened up two separate entry possibilities: one is off the world rankings, with the top-50 on May 26th earning places in the field, while the other is through the Race to Dubai standings with the top-five players, not already exempt, inside the top 20 following the BMW International on June 23rd earning a place on the Causeway Coast.