Shane Lowry is in the Big Apple this week looking to take home the main chunk of the pie as he returns to Major action at the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black in good spirits.
The Clara golfer comes into the year’s second Major in New York City feeling refreshed after a well-earned two weeks off and after securing a podium finish at the RBC Heritage in Harbour Town last month, Lowry has seen enough in his game to suggest that he can get himself into a position to challenge this week too.
“I’m excited about this week – looking forward to it,” said Lowry in his column for PaddyPower. “I feel like my game’s in a good place, even though I haven’t played competitively for a couple of weeks.
“I had a week away in Barbados after Harbour Town and the Zurich Classic and feel like I’ve hit the reset button for the next part of the year.
“The Majors are big weeks in the golfing calendar and it’s all about conserving your energy and not letting them get inside your head too much.
“My focus this week will be to try and keep a similar routine to what I normally do.”
Some of you may have seen Lowry appear on the Tommy Tiernan Show recently and the interview served as a real insight into Ireland’s popular star. Lowry looked at ease, typically jovial and came across as grounded as when he first burst onto the scene as an amateur when winning the Irish Open at Baltray in 2009. On the flipside, Tiernan’s humble queries brought out the side to Lowry that many of us wish he would let go of; a harshness on himself that does his golf no favours.
For all Lowry’s talent, his one apparent flaw has been his inability to let a bad shot go, however, since his Masters missed cut, the Offaly man seems to have made strides in the mental side of his game that indicates he has finally turned a corner in this sphere too.
“I learnt a little bit about myself at Harbour Town,” he added. “I just really need to relax on the golf course and not worry about the consequences of a good or a bad shot.
“The best thing was that I felt very comfortable in the lead having been at the top of the leaderboard from tee off until the business end on Sunday.
“That was something I felt when I won in Abu Dhabi earlier this year, which was nice. I was happy. Obviously, I was disappointed I didn’t win at Harbour Town, but I was very happy that I gave myself a good chance of winning.
“That’s what I want to do. I want to be playing against the best players in the world, competing against them and seeing if I’ve got what it takes to beat them. To be competing with the likes of Dustin Johnson, the World No. 1 at the minute, is a great feeling.
“To be able to go out and do that is very nice. It can’t do anything but give me confidence going forward.”
In order to give himself the best possible chance of challenging this week, Lowry has surrounded himself with familiar faces to ensure that a bad day on the golf course isn’t exacerbated back home. With wife Wendy, his daughter Iris, coach Neil Manchip and his brother Alan all sharing the house with him, he’ll be hoping the calm atmosphere back at the ranch will translate to his play. And the game-plan is simple; start well, keep the foot down and give himself a chance come the weekend.
“My approach will be to get out there and try and shoot the best score I can on Thursday, and then see where I am on Thursday evening,” said Lowry.
“I plan to do the same on Friday and hopefully that’s enough to put me in a decent place going into the weekend. The ideal scenario is to be in a good position going into the back nine on Saturday. You’ve got 27 holes to have a go at it from there. That’s the way I’ve always viewed tournaments. If you’re in contention by the back nine on Saturday, you can make a move.”
Lowry will begin that move from the 10th tee alongside South Africa’s Erik Van Rooyen and England’s Tommy Fleetwood at 12.29pm, Irish time on Thursday.
Irish Tee Times in full (Irish time)
12.29 – Shane Lowry, Erik Van Rooyen, Tommy Fleetwood (10th tee)
12.51 – Graeme McDowell, Chez Reavie, Brendan Jones
18.05 – Padraig Harrington, Martin Kaymer, Keegan Bradley
1838 – Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Phil Mickelson