Shane Lowry: Next time I am one of favourites, it will be a lot different
Failing to live up to expectations at Open is something I must learn from
I texted Paul Dunne on the Sunday night and told him I’d watched every bit of the golf that day and that he’d played better than anyone. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire.
I’ve had plenty of time for reflection since the British Open. A lot of people keep taking me back to the 17th hole in the first round and that eight on the Road Hole – and I’ll get to that later – but my main disappointment looking back is how I felt I dealt with expectations – both my own and other people’s.
Nobody likes to miss the cut in a Major championship but it happens. What was different this time is that I went into the Open as one of the favourites. I was one of the guys people were talking about as having a real chance to win. People talked me up a lot. You can say all you want about not being affected by such talk but it does get to you and it is something I have to learn to deal with. I just didn’t perform when it mattered.
I look at Jordan Spieth and, I’ll be honest, it fascinates me how well he deals with pressure and expectations.
He’s just gone 22 years of age and every championship he goes in with the expectation to win. With a few holes left in the final round of the Open, I was hoping he would do it. It would have been great for golf if Jordan had gone into the USPGA at Whistling Straits with a chance to win the Grand Slam. It’s so hard to win one tournament, never mind to win Majors like he has. He has had expectation all his life and is able to deal with it. He is one of the best players in the world, if not the best at the minute.
Myself? I too have to deal with expectations and I have to learn from what happened at St Andrews, of going into a Major as one of the favourites; and being one of the favourites shows where I have come from and how well I am doing. I have to learn from it and I know that the next time I am in that position it will be a lot better and I will deal with it better. If that’s all I take away from the week, just that one thing, it will be a positive.
So, back to that quadruple on the 17th. Not a nice memory! I am putting it down as one of those things that happen in golf. I’d a bit of a wait on the tee and I was standing there thinking about the shot.
I’d been driving the ball unbelievably well all day. For the 10 previous holes I hadn’t missed a shot, had hit all my targets off the tee. But, there, I took too much of an aggressive line, probably 10 yards too much, and was only out of bounds by three yards. From there, I was always struggling. I got too clever with my second shot off my second ball, the club snagged in the rough, and before I knew it I had an eight on my card.
If anything, salt was rubbed into my wound by failing to hole a four-footer for birdie on the 18th which would have got me back to level par and not too bad. It wasn’t a nice way to finish.
Then, in the second round, I actually played well. It just didn’t happen. Putts lipped out, time and time again. That’s the way golf is sometimes and you just have to get on with things and look forward to the next tournament.
I watched the final round back in my own house with a few of the lads. I’d texted Paul Dunne on the Sunday night and told him I’d watched every bit of the golf that day and that he’d played better than anyone. We watched on the Monday, hoping for an Irish win, and Pádraig looked as if he had a chance for a while. I felt for Paul in the end but I am sure the publicity should get him some invites when he turns pro and that all will turn out well for him.
I haven’t played since the Open but had a big interest in both tournaments last weekend, the European Masters and the Canadian Open, because results could have affected my place in the world’s top 50. I needed to stay in the top 50 to get into the Bridgestone Invitational and had an eye on how G-Mac, Tommy Fleetwood and Luke Donald got on because they were the ones that could have most affected my position. Graeme in Canada and Tommy in Switzerland both missed the cut and I stayed at number 48.
It’s nice to be in the field for the Bridgestone and the PGA, two big tournaments back-to-back. I’ve been training all week with Robbie Cannon, aiming to be fresh for my return to the United States, and I’ve also worked on my wedge shots, which I felt let me down a bit in St Andrews. My wedges weren’t up to scratch, I was five to 10 feet further away than normally, so I’ve been practising those shots since.
Returning to competition
If you drive the ball well, you’ll have a lot of chances. Drive the ball average, and it’s a very tough course. The field spreads out quite a lot over the course of the week but going to a tournament where you know you will get four rounds the week before a Major, without having to fight about the cut, puts an extra pep in your step.
I’m looking forward to getting there, try to do well on Thursday and Friday and to give myself a chance over the weekend.