There’s an old saying in golf and that before you win a Major you first have to lose one.
Shane Lowry falls into that category having led by four shots heading into the final round of the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont.
It’s not lost that Lowry also leads by four shots heading to the last day of this year’s last Major and lying at 16-under par after three loops of Royal Portrush.
But unlike the overwhelming US crowds outside of Pittsburg, Lowry will have the whole of Ireland in his corner this afternoon. We got a taste of that late yesterday with Lowry clearly looking overwhelmed but also drawing on the reception he received at every hole and responding with three birdies in succession from the 15th.
His 197 total over three days is the lowest 54-hole score in The Open’s history. He also leads the field in greens hit, missing just nine in three rounds.
With the weather to turn wet-and-windy over the afternoon Lowry should be in his element but so too should Tommy Fleetwood, who honed his links game on the opposite side of the Irish Sea as Lowry.
But let’s also not forget what transpired 10-years on a very wet-and-windy May afternoon in 2009 at Baltray when a relatively unknown Offaly golfer rocked the golf word in capturing the Irish Open.
And if Lowry is to win a first Major his proud Ardglass caddy is sure to be instrumental in helping steer the 32-year old in becoming what would be a fifth Open Championship victory for an Irish-born golfer in 12-years.
“It’s going to be nuts,” his caddie, Bo Martin, said.
On the flipside, such energy and enthusiasm can either be a help or a hindrance.
“Walking from the green to the next tee, the people are literally a yard away from you roaring in your face as loud as they can,” Lowry said. “If you have to get up and hit a drive down a tight fairway, it’s fairly difficult. I thought I dealt with it very well today and hopefully I do the same.
“I learned a lot about myself at Oakmont. “I’m going to learn a lot about myself this afternoon. It is a huge day in my career. But it probably doesn’t mean as much to me as it did then, which is going to make it a little bit easier.
“I think I learned a few things that day about playing in the final round of a major with a lead, that you need to just hang in until the very last minute. You never know what can happen. And I’m going to do the same I’ve been doing for the last three days.”