Shane Lowry navigated a route to Royal Portrush so that he could come in under the radar, a way of keeping expectations of himself at arm’s length.
He’s about to discover if such a low flight trajectory, which could be useful in itself in shot-making should the wind blow as anticipated in the coming days, takes him to the heights of contending, and winning, a Claret Jug.
“I’m 33rd in the world, so I would like to think I can come in a little bit under the radar . . . that was my plan coming up here, get out and sneak around the place and hopefully pop up on Sunday afternoon around six o’clock or sometime and see what happens,” said Lowry, of returning to terrain which – in his amateur days – proved a fruitful hunting ground.
Lowry’s legwork in advance of getting here this week, only rolling into town on Monday evening, having done the real prep work a couple of weeks ago far away from the madding crowd, has certainly led to a relaxed demeanour.
Nine holes on arrival on Monday, another 18 on Tuesday and some work yesterday . . . and ready for the ultimate challenge ahead, his bid to finally get some reward from the British Open, a championship that has tormented him in recent years. In fact, the 32-year-old Clara native has missed the cut in his last four appearances.
“Ah look, I’m in a much better place than I have been for a while. I think the only time I’ve been playing well going into an Open in the last few years was the one after Oakmont [at Royal Troon in 2016] and I was probably still hurting a little bit, and it was tough.
“I’m not making excuses [about past performances] but I feel like I’m coming in playing as good as I ever have and my form is as good as it’s ever been coming into an Open.
“So, maybe this will be the one that will turn it around. I know my record is not very good in the Open so hopefully it could be different this week. I feel mentally, and with my game, that it’s way better than it has been any time going into a Major and going into an Open especially.”
Lowry – a little under the weather during the DDF Irish Open in Lahinch a fortnight ago – is in fine fettle. His prep work, apart from that initial visit to Portrush, has seen him playing links golf at Portmarnock and Baltray and a weekend away in Adare Manor as a birthday treat for his father, Brendan.
As an amateur, Lowry won a North of Ireland title on the Dunluce links – admittedly before the recent course changes – and there remains a feeling that his eye is suited to the intricate nuances of this examination.
“It’s one of my favourite golf courses in Ireland, I’ve always said that,” he said, adding: “It’s trickier than I remember. I don’t remember those big run-offs as much. If you get yourself on the wrong side of the hole this week, you’ll get yourself in trouble as in short-sided. There’s certain holes you have to miss on certain sides. I think the scoring is going to be a little trickier than what people think.”
Lowry’s comfort in his own skin is obvious.
“I come here with high expectations for myself but it is all about lowering them when I get out there and play my golf and just allow myself to play good golf. I think that’s the main thing, if I can go out there and just allow myself to express myself out there and play good golf. Hopefully I can do well.”