Gotham City, 1981. Staring at the sad reality of his own reflection, a clown forces a smile upon his face as he manipulates his lips with his fingers, but for a solitary paint-stained tear running down his white cheek revealing the tragedy behind his comedy.
It’s fair to say the opening scene of ‘Joker’ hooked me in on Sunday night. It was brilliant and foreshadowed a performance from Joaquin Phoenix that should win him the Oscar. It’s the first time I’ve left the cinema in years feeling fully satisfied and even Vue’s inflated ticket price seemed wholly worth the trip. I’m still contemplating seeing it for a second time – something I’ve never understood with filmgoers – but there’s one thing that hasn’t crossed my mind since marvelling at Todd Phillips’ creation, and that’s the idea of a sequel.
More, more, more, the masses cry, unwilling to sit still and digest what was adequate. Shane Lowry hadn’t won his first Major Championship two hours when questions from the Press Centre struck a nerve with the Clara golfer around when he was planning to add to his Claret Jug. For a lifetime in golf, Lowry had dreamt of holing the winning putt at the Open. In July at Portrush, he lived that dream, but for a section of his terminally starved support to soon demand that he dream again, but bigger.
Since returning to action on the European Tour, the 32-year old has been the first to admit that he needs to move on from his Open victory and refocus his goals. A 12-month plan to be part of Padraig Harrington’s Ryder Cup team has provided Lowry with the ideal target to aim at and a pair of top-15 finishes at Wentworth and the Dunhill suggested he’s well on track.
However, I was interested to note following his unexpected missed cut at last week’s Italian Open, some of the “constructive” criticism sent Lowry’s way. There’s a sense that Lowry didn’t strike while his irons were hot; spending too long in the Boar’s Head and not enough time on the fairway following his historic Open win. But it wasn’t that long ago when Lowry, cutting a frustrated figure, said:
“Someone in my category in the world rankings – if I’m going into Majors playing well, yes, I feel like I can do well and win one, but it’s not the be-all and end-all for me.”
At that stage, December 2018, I would imagine that Shane Lowry would’ve put the clubs away a happy man knowing his career would amount to, among other things, a Claret Jug. Naturally, having now won a Major, the goal posts change and thoughts turn to two but it’s laughable to suggest that the man responsible for what might prove the most significant weekend of golf in our lifetimes can’t take a few months to enjoy it.
Of course, Race to Dubai points and World Ranking placings are important to the modern golfer, but Lowry’s five-year PGA Tour exemption and 10-year European Tour guarantee affords him long-term stability and therefore, time to enjoy the short-term.
This is unchartered waters for Lowry and like Francesco Molinari has learned this year, the life of an Open Champion differs greatly from what came before. Everyone wants a piece of you all of a sudden, packed media schedules and corporate commitments leave little room for ‘me time’.
The way I see it, Lowry’s just had his hit record, something he’s been working a lifetime to land, and rather than hop back into the studio to record another, he should enjoy touring this one. Every time Lowry steps out onto a first tee around the world and the words, ‘The Open Champion’ are uttered before his name, he should be allowed to savour it. Sure, expectations heighten when someone proves themselves capable of being the best but there’s no rush on Lowry to win another and there’ll be no loss on him should every other Major pass him by.
The days of Shane Lowry crying in a Carnoustie car park over his golf game are long gone. Unlike the Joker forced to put on a happy face, Lowry can look in a mirror and smile knowing the joy his finest career accomplishment – to date – brought him and so many others.
A sequel would just be a bonus.