Shane Lowry is strongly opposed to renewed calls for curbing driver length & golf ball distances declaring golf’s ruling bodies are simply listening to the voice of one player – Bryson DeChambeau.
Both the USGA & R&A, who jointly administer golf, have formally advised leading manufacturers they have to early March to express their formal views again in a move that could see a special ‘local’ rule introduced that would ban any driver over 46-inches and curb golf ball distances for use by professionals and elite amateurs, maintaining the present rules for weekend amateurs.
It took the likes of Titleist, TaylorMade and Callaway less than a day to sound their disapproval with TaylorMade, who sponsor Rory McIlroy, declaring: “TaylorMade Golf Company firmly opposes any potential rollback of product performance or bifurcation of the rules in any form as we believe these movements will be detrimental to the game at every level.”
Speaking ahead of this week’s Saudi International, Open Champion Lowry agrees that any potential move to curb distances could bring more harm than good.
“The only reason they (USGA/R&A) are doing it is because one person keeps talking about it all the time, and about how far he is hitting the ball,” said Lowry. “We saw what happened at Augusta as Bryson didn’t rock-up and win the Masters like everyone thought he was going to do. es, he won the US Open but when you’re one of the best players in the world, of course he can win tournaments.”
If you look at Lowry’s current PGA Tour ‘driving’ stats, he presently ranks 57th in driving, averaging 301-yards off the tee. DeChambeau is the longest at 329.2 yards, nearly eight yards longer than the second ranked McIlroy.
“I had a good chat with Ian Poulter over dinner last night and we talked about it and the thing is that if they do roll back the equipment and the golf ball, it will affect the short hitters a lot more than the long hitters,” Lowry said. “The long hitters will have more of an advantage. If they roll back the ball Bryson and all these guys are still going to hit it well over 300-years whereas the rest of us will be hitting it 260, 270-yards and we are all still going to be playing 500-yard par-4s.
“You look back on Bryson’s win at the US Open and Bryson was standing-up there on the tee and just slashing it. I think I finished 10th in ‘driving accuracy’ that week and I missed 50% of the fairways which is actually 28 fairways around a US Open venue.
“I think I had to lay-up about 20 times out of 28 drives that missed the fairway. I just think they need to be careful the way they set-up courses and just need .. it is not as easy as just doing it overnight but I do think the game is in great shape the way it is. It’s great to watch the best players in the world when they’re doing their thing but the rest of us still have a chance week-in, week-out when we turn up and play our best golf, so that’s kind of where I am at with it.”
DeChambeau, who is also competing in Saudi Arabia, bizarrely agrees with the suggested USGA/R&A intentions.
“From my perspective, I think it suits me really well because as of right now, I’m still playing the 45-and-a-half-inch driver, and it’s suiting me perfectly well, and I’m not going to the 48-inch,” said the American. “So if someone was trying to go to the 48 for them they could gain six, seven miles an hour pretty quickly and now it’s not a possibility. And I think it’s going to be more difficult for people to gain speed easily. They are going to have to work really hard, just like I have. For me right now, I feel like it’s a pretty good advantage from the way I look at it.”
Lowry is teeing-up along the Red Sea course looking to build on last week’s third round 67 on route to a share of 27th place in Dubai.
“Last week in Dubai I was going pretty well and I was pretty happy with the way my game was going and I just let it get away a bit on Sunday,” he said in reference to a closing 75.
“If I look at my whole game like last Saturday in Dubai, I hit the ball strong to shoot five-under and holed just one putt to shoot five-under and that is kind of where my game is at, and if I can manage to get the ball rolling on the greens and get a bit of confidence then I will be okay.”
Joining Lowry and McDowell is Paul Dunne and Ardglass pro Cormac Sharvin. It is Dunne’s first event on the Main Tour since missing the cut in last September’s Irish Open while Sharvin returns for his first tournament in two months following sitting out the weekend rounds in the South African Open.
IRISH TEE TIMES (Irish time)
- 4.50am – Shane Lowry
- 6am – Paul Dunne
- 9.40am – Graeme McDowell
- 10.30am – Cormac Sharvin