Shane Lowry had a quiet coffee with coach Neil Manchip to thank for overcoming the nerves in posting a brilliant four-under par 67 on day one of The Open.
It was the Clara golfer’s lowest ever opening round in a Major and it came after a much-needed heart-to-heart with his coach after pre-tournament anxiety threatened to cripple Lowry’s chances before they got off the ground.
“I don’t feel like practice went unbelievably well this week. I felt a little bit uncomfortable,” Lowry confessed post-round.
“We went [Lowry and Manchip] to coffee yesterday down at the Bushmills Inn and we found a little quiet room, we had a great chat for about 40 minutes. I left that room full of confidence and ready to go. So we just put everything out in the open, everything out on the table, what could happen, what might happen.
“It’s 4-under today, go home now and relax and watch a bit of golf in the afternoon and get out there tomorrow and try to make a decent score.”
When pushed on the source of the anxiety, Lowry could only smile. It was a different smirk to the one that briefly washed over the Clara man’s face as a roar went up to his name ringing out prior to his opening tee shot, but it was a smile regardless, Lowry clearly amused that such a question needed answering.
“It’s the British Open, it’s in Ireland,” he said. “I’m playing well, I feel like I should come up and do well. Why shouldn’t I feel uneasy?
“I’m sure there’s plenty of golfers standing on the first tee feeling uneasy. You wouldn’t be human if you weren’t nervous or uneasy about playing in the biggest tournament in the world.”
Despite understandably wanting to play down the size of the occasion, and the weight of expectation that he happily avoided when self-describing his arrival at Portrush as ‘under the radar’ earlier this week, Lowry admits he’s not under the radar now.
“I was probably as nervous as I’ve been in quite a while on the first tee, almost ever, I’d say,” Lowry added.
“Look, nerves are a good thing, aren’t they? It’s where you want to be. I just hope I’m nervous on Sunday afternoon out there. It’s right where you want to be, and you have to tell yourself that when you’re there. Where would you rather be? Would you rather be here or sitting at home watching on TV?”
“I feel like for me I can come here a little more under the radar than the other guys. G-Mac is from here, he grew up here. Rory is an hour down the road and obviously had some great times here. And Darren lives here now. I feel like for me I can kind of be more under the radar than everyone else. But obviously, not now.”
Sitting just one shot off JB Holmes lead, the Clara man is now officially on the radar.
Full Scoring HERE