2009 champion Shane Lowry reckons future Irish Opens might benefit from a change in date, believing a move to the week after The Open Championship would best enable the tournament to attract a global field.
The 34-year old was all smiles in his pre-tournament press conference, treading lightly as he broached the subject of a date change in front of event organisers at Mount Juliet and his Horizon Sports manager, Brian Moran.
The scheduling of this year’s tournament has seen many of the game’s best players opting out in favour of playing next week’s Scottish Open in the lead-up to Royal St. George’s, and although Lowry was hesitant to state this week’s July 1-4 date isn’t ideal, he did suggest the powers that be could be better served should they consider a shift in scheduling.
“I’ve not really talked about it but I’m probably in the camp that I think, maybe it’s not the best date,” Lowry smiled as the eggshells appeared mid-sentence.
“In my opinion, and I’ve never really said this, and I know Brian’s over there looking at me and I don’t know what he’ll think of me saying this, but I think the week after The Open is probably a really good date for it.
“That’s the original date. I remember watching the Irish Open as a kid the week after The Open at Portmarnock. I think the week after The Open possibly could be a better date than this because it’s just hard to get guys who are trying to get ready for Major championships.
“Obviously the Scottish Open has the best date because they can play on a links course the week before The Open but who knows – it’s not my call – but if I was involved, the week after The Open would be my preferred date.”
That might be a conversation for a different day but what’s not is Lowry’s impending defence of his Claret Jug in a little over two weeks’ time in Sandwich. Far from teeing up this week with one eye on his Open preparations, Lowry insists he’s fully focussed on the task at hand as he not only looks to win his first Irish Open title as a professional, but also go a long way towards booking his seat on the plane to September’s Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.
“I go into the Irish Open every year wanting so bad to win this tournament,” Lowry said.
“At the start of the year you’re looking at tournaments that you’d like to win and this is definitely up there. I just want to give myself a chance. I would really, really love the buzz of giving myself a chance and giving what few people are here the chance to see me do something really cool again.”
As for his own form heading into Mount Juliet, Lowry was happy to put his 13-over par tally at the US Open at Torrey Pines to one side, confident that he retains the golf game that saw him produce top-10 finishes at the PGA Championship and the Memorial, and buoyed by what he’s seen on the greens this week so far in Kilkenny.
“I felt like my game was in pretty decent shape this morning,” he said. “I did quite a bit of putting yesterday, bit of practice, played nine holes. I feel like I would’ve known between yesterday and today if there was anything that needed to be sorted out.
“You go to the US Open and a place like Torrey Pines, shoot 13-over and you probably think your game is miles away but when you sit back and break down the whole week, it probably wasn’t as far away as it looked.
“I was a little worried heading over the Torrey Pines. I’ve always struggled on fast Poa annua greens, I just lost my confidence there fairly quickly and that killed me. But nice greens here this week, they’re rolling lovely this morning so hopefully I can keep doing what I’ve been doing the last few months and have a good week.”