Shane Lowry is determined to celebrate his 10th anniversary BMW PGA Championship appearance with victory at Tour HQ.
Lowry is among seven major champions, including fellow Irish Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell, teeing-up on the famed ‘Burma Road’ West Course at Wentworth in Surrey.
The Euro 6.1m Rolex Series event had been due to be staged a month ago but was put back to this week under a continuing ‘no spectator’ policy.
Lowry made his Wentworth debut in 2010 as then reigning Irish Open champion and he’s not missed a year since posting a best finish of runner-up in 2014 when he shared the lead heading to day three before eventually losing out by a shot to Rory McIlroy.
The Offaly golfer had been fourth in 2011 and sixth twice in 2015 and 2017,
Lowry could have easily been sitting back at home this week but just like American Patrick Reed, England’s Justin Rose and good friend McDowell, he’s chosen to tee-up in what will be a ninth European Tour Race to Dubai counting event.
“The BMW PGA is a great tournament, the Tour’s flagship event and it’s always a good feeling driving into Wentworth,” said Lowry.
“Of course, it’s a lot different this year without the crowds but then the golf course will be the same and it’s a golf course I’ve played well on, as my record shows.
“So, I really love this tournament and this golf course and, looking to play well again this week.
“The course is not going to play too differently given we are a month later than September when we were here last but then I was out playing a few holes yesterday (TUES) and it looks in great shape as Wentworth always does.
“Also, I entered the event as I wanted to show my support to the Tour in these continuing challenging times as the European Tour is to be congratulated for their efforts.
“There’s also the aspect of Race to Dubai points. A good week here this week and then a good showing in the Masters could put me right up there on the points table, so that’s another reason I wanted to be here this week”.
Lowry is lying 40th in the Race to Dubai with Reed currently leading the way from fellow American Collin Morikawa, who is presently in second place, revealing ahead of this week’s PGA Tour event in his home town of Las Vegas, that he’s planning to tee-up in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
Lowry has spent this past week, following the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, ‘chilling out’ with his young family, revealing he will return to the States next week ahead of teeing-up in the November 12th commencing Masters.
“I had a nice, relaxing week off with Wendy and Iris, so that was great while I also had to complete my quarantine period following the Irish Open, so it was all very chilled,” he said.
“I got to see Neil (Manchip – coach) yesterday (TUES) so that was good. We worked on a few things, so I’m really feeling fresh and ready to go ahead this week here at Wentworth.
“I’m then heading back to the States next week for the CJ Cup as I’ve not played that event before, so looking forward to that.
“It’s still a bit unclear after that ahead of the Masters but we’ll figure that out but really just looking forward to having a good week here at Wentworth.”
BMW PGA organisers have drawn Lowry to tee-up alongside former Masters champ, Danny Willett and fellow Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, who lost out in a play-off at last week’s ASI Scottish Open.
“I’ve got a great grouping the first two rounds playing alongside Tommy (Fleetwood) and Danny (Willett), so I’m excited about that,” said Lowry.
“That’s an added incentive to play well given Tommy is clearly in form going so close last week at the Scottish while Danny, I know will be trying hard to hold onto the trophy.”
And Fleetwood was gently reminded of the last occasion he found himself grouped with Lowry and that was the final round of last year’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush when Lowry won by six shots from Fleetwood who was a distant runner-up.
“There was extra incentive when I was playing with him in The Open in the final round but not really this week as it’s just a great three-ball,” said Fleetwood.
“Again, it never really makes that much difference who you play with, but also when you’re comfortable with people, and there’s a similar pace to how people play or you play with them a lot, and you know them really well, I think it does make a minor difference.
“And it’s just nice, you can have two long days with people you get on well with and people you know. I think that would be lovely. I think, you know, Rolex events, BMW, PGA, I think all of that is plenty of incentive and just get cracking and play.
“We’ll all be doing our own thing. It is nice when you get a comfortable grouping, like the last round on Sunday in Scotland with Rocky (Robert Rock), as I really enjoyed it. I saw Rocky yesterday and I said, ‘I really loved Sunday by the way’.
“He said ‘it was good, wasn’t it? It is nice when you get people you enjoy playing with’.”
IRISH TEE TIMES
7.45am – Padraig Harrington
8.15am – Graeme McDowell
12.15pm – Shane Lowry