Shane Lowry will have one eye on hitting range balls in Dubai this week but the other firmly fixed on what may unfold at the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa.
Lowry and his young family headed straight from Turkey to the UAE where he is chilling-out ahead of next week’s European Tour season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
Lowry didn’t enjoy any Turkish delights last week in a disappointing finish but then nor did current Race to Dubai rival Bernd Wiesberger.
The Austrian failed to break 70 over the four rounds to finish at five-under par while Lowry never capitalised on his second day 65 in posting a weekend pair of 75s to end four shots adrift of Wiesberger.
It saw Lowry slip to 672 Race to Dubai points behind Wiesberger and if the Austrian was to win for a fourth time this season in South Africa this week, it would make his own No. 1 winning burden a lot less stressful.
While Lowry struggles to regain the form that saw him win his first event of 2019 in Abu Dhabi and then capture a first Major, Wiesberger also admitted ahead of teeing-up at Sun City that he’s battling to also rekindle his three-times winning season.
“There are so many points to be had over the last events again, and a lot of things can happen,” said Wiesberger.
“I’m just looking to be prepared as good as I can.
“It’s getting a little bit tighter with some of my game that hasn’t been there the last two weeks but then I am just looking forward to this week again.
“I’m not looking too much into the ranking and just controlling what I can control.”
Both Jon Rahm, who is currently No. 2 on the Race to Dubai, along with Lowry and the No. 5 ranked Rory McIlroy have chosen not to compete in South Africa and will instead stake their claims on the outcome next week at the DP World Tour Championship.
And the way McIlroy is playing, he could very well pull the No. 1 carpet out from everyone to add a record-setting fourth Race to Dubai to his recent fourth PGA Tour top-ranked money-earning triumph.
“Dubai is going to be a big week and if I can play well and compete, there’s going to be a good few lads with a chance to win the Race to Dubai,” Lowry said.
“It will come down to either you win the DP World and if you don’t, you won’t win the Race to Dubai.
“The good thing is I have done quite well at the DP World. I like the golf course and I like being in Dubai, and having this week off with the family, I’m sure will get me hunger to get back for golf next week and put up a good performance.”
No matter the outcome, the end-of-year accolades are sure to fall Lowry’s way, including Ireland’s top golf accolades of RTE Sports Star of the Year and already the assurance next month of the Irish Golf Writers Association ‘Golfer of the Year’.
In Lowry’s absence, Ireland’s sole representative this week will be European Ryder Cup captain, Padraig Harrington who has accepted an invitation to be the lone flag bearer teeing-up this week at Sun City.
Harrington tees up a week after the biggest Tour first prize cheque of $US2m (Euro 1.82m) was handed out to Tyrrell Hatton in Turkey. But never fear, the first prize pot in South Africa has been increased by $US 1/2m (Euro 454,000) to a new record prize of $US2.5m.
In terms of invites to get, the Dubliner has been hitting the jackpot.
NEDBANK CHALLENGE – Irish tee times (Irish time)
Padraig Harrington – 7am