Shane Lowry admitted that he watched on with interest as the European Tour released its 2021 schedule with particular attention paid to where the Irish Open would fit into his plans in this bumper year for golf.
With the Olympics and the Ryder Cup squeezing into an already jam-packed schedule, Lowry was pleased to see that Mount Juliet’s Irish Open date had returned to its July position, two weeks before Lowry defends his Open title at Royal St. George’s. Set to return to Kilkenny from July 1-4 after a September date at Galgorm Castle last year, Lowry will hope the summer date proves a decent omen given it will mirror his preparations that led to winning his maiden Major title at Royal Portrush.
“Obviously last year was tricky to get the tournament done but they managed it up in Galgorm,” Lowry said. “I was interested to see where it was going to be on the schedule this year but it’s in a pretty decent spot for me, I have to be honest. Two weeks before The Open is exactly what I did a couple of years ago so I’ll play the Irish Open and I’ll take the Scottish Open off.
“Hopefully by then we’ll be allowed crowds but the date will work well… it will be nice. Mount Juliet is a great venue. It’s always been one of the best in the country and it will be a nice place to go and stay and play some golf.”
For all the golf Lowry has played since skating to that six-shot win at Royal Portrush in the summer of 2019, the proud Clara man has yet to enjoy a tournament on home soil in front of the many thousands of fans who’d love to appreciate our latest major champion golf game in the flesh. Unsurprisingly, the now 33-year old, who thrives off the energy of the galleries, is just as eager to see them lining the outside of the ropes ahead of a special summer for Lowry.
“I really hope by then that crowds are allowed back in,” he said. “Who knows what way it’s going with the vaccine, you can’t make any decisions but we’ll just have to wait and see what it’s like by then.
“Absolutely, it would be incredible,” he added, to play as the Open champion in front of a raucous home crowd. “Especially down in Kilkenny which is only an hour or so from where I grew up. It’s right in there heart of Ireland so it will be a good crowd there and I’m sure I’d get a good following. It will be a great run of events.”
Lowry makes his seasonal debut this week at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, where he won in 2019 to tee off that stunning year for Irish golf.