For someone who won an Irish Open as an amateur and then went onto to win golf’s oldest major, it seems strange Shane Lowry has ever felt ‘intimidated’.
Yet that’s just how Lowry felt during the course of the third round of the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship in suburban Charlotte.
Lowry posted opening scores of 74 and 70 for a two-over par tally and found himself grouped in the third round alongside Phil Mickelson who’d shot a pair of 72s.
Mickelson whipped the crowd into a frenzy posting an eagle and five birdies in shooting a seven-under par 64, the second lowest round of the day, and leaving Lowry choking in ‘Lefty’s’ proverbial dust to move to near the top of the board.
It was Mickelson’s lowest round to par in two years since a 63 on day one of the 2016 Open Championship.
“I don’t know what the difference was. I just felt very unfocused the first two days,” Mickelson said at the time.
While he went from post-round interview to interview, Lowry quietly found his way back to the locker-room having having managed a no frills level par 71.
The reigning Open Champion was asked in a recent Paddy Power interview if he’d ever felt intimidated on a golf course and he singled out that day on the 5th May, 2018 playing alongside Mickelson.
“One of the only times I’ve ever been intimidated on the course was I played with Phil Mickelson about three of four years in Quail Hollow up in Charlotte and I played with him on the Saturday and I remember I finished my round and I said to my coach Neil afterwards that I felt different on the golf course, I felt like the crowd was huge,” said Lowry.
“Phil was doing his thing, he shot seven under and I shot level par which was average but it was just weird and somewhat intimidating. He’s such a big star and someone who I looked up to for years.
“It’s funny, as when we finished that round and he came into the locker room and the locker room there is where all the players eat, it’s huge and Phil was in sitting down with his coach and his team and he turns to me and says ‘Hey man, that was a lot of fun today’ and I was like of course it was, you shot 64 today, it’s going to be fun with anyone!
“That was probably one of the only times I’ve ever been intimidated on the course, I’d never get like that.”
Mickelson was a then winner of five Majors and 45 of 46 now other events around the globe and the advice that Saturday afternoon stuck with Lowry.
“As you get older you get better dealing with it,” said Lowry.
“You build relationships with these guys in the locker room and they don’t become intimidating when you get out on the golf course.”
Now whenever Mickelson and Lowry bump into each other in a locker-room they also have much in common with each now an Open Champion.
“Myself and Phil’s lockers have always been close enough to each other at every tournament because of L and M on our surnames, so you’d end up having conversations,” said Lowry.
“That has helped so that you do build relationships which makes guys like Phil less intimidating.”
Two years and two months after Lowry and Mickelson played the third round together in Charlotte and it was Lowry’s turn to shine in front of a ‘home’ crowd at the 2019 Open.
Organisers had grouped Lowry, Mickelson and South African Branden Grace together for the opening two rounds of the 148th Open Championship.
Lowry was the least bit intimidated shooting a pair of 67s and waving goodbye to Mickelson who was headed back across ‘The Pond’ with scores of 76 and 74.