Shane Lowry intent on taking strategic British Open approach
Offaly native won’t be opting for a ‘driver everywhere’ approach despite its popularity
Shane Lowry during preview day three of the British Open Championship at Carnoustie Golf Links, Angus. Photograph: : David Davies/PA
The Trackman device on the practice range is a source of statistical information, but – sometimes – can be a distraction too: as he went about his business, Shane Lowry’s swing thoughts and actions were concentrated on driving the ball; yet, every so often, he couldn’t resist the temptation to cast an eye towards the readings which informed of ball speed, distance and other such figures which showed if his actions were producing the desired results.
Lowry was working on something specific, an issue that was a part of the conversation between the player, his coach and his caddie on the drive up from Edinburgh Airport on Monday afternoon.
“It’s just something we had a chat about,” revealed Lowry of his analysis with Neil Manchip, his swing guru, and Dermot Byrne, his bagman. “Maybe I’ve had a bit too much draw bias over the last while so I have been trying to straighten out my ball flight, to hit some fades and get the control back in my game. I feel like I have been trying to hit the ball too hard over the last while. When I get to a number, it always seems to be, ‘Can I get this club there?’ rather than thinking, ‘What club do I need to hit the shot? What club do I need to hit it close?’”
For much of the season, Lowry has been seeking some kind of spark to ignite his game. On leaving the Irish Open at Ballyliffin less than a fortnight ago, he had referred to just how “average” everything about his game was in a season which so far has failed to yield any top-10 finishes: his best on the PGA Tour was a tied-14th at the Houston Open, his best on the European Tour a tied-15th at the BMW PGA championship.
And it would seem that, year on year, his presence in the field at an Open heightens expectations regardless of form. Yet, Lowry’s last three appearances in this oldest of Majors – at St Andrews, Troon and Birkdale – all finished in disappointment with missed cuts.
“People are probably finding it hard to believe I’ve missed the last three cuts in the Open because they see me as a good links player. But I don’t think about it like that. I played the Irish Open a few weeks ago and felt like I played decent in a lot of parts. So hopefully I can go out in Carnoustie, which is a course I like and a course I’ve shot good scores on, and hopefully come out and do the business this week,” said Lowry.
If you were to listen to a lot of players, the only strategy in town this week is to take the big stick out of the bag on very Par 4 and every Par 5 and give it a whack. “I just need to play the golf course whatever way I see it and not listen to the way people are talking. You can get caught up with people saying they will hit driver everywhere because the rough is not thick. But I just want to play the way I want to play and the way I see it because I have shot some great scores around here.
“Obviously the way I play the course is a decent way to play it and that’s what I’m going to do this week . . . the guys who want to hit drivers everywhere, let them off and if I’m wrong I’ll obviously eat my words at the end of the week. But I don’t think it’s driver everywhere. I think you need to get the ball in play, get the ball on the short grass and have control with your iron shots.”
Of a feeling that his game is finally ready to spark into life, Lowry replied: “I’ve been saying for a few weeks or a couple of months that I don’t think I am far away. Sometimes you can feel like you are miles away but I really don’t. And from the research that Dermot has done over the last week, he wouldn’t be one to bluff me, he thinks we could be very close to something.”
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