Lowry’s Open prep given timely boost with closing 66 at Mount Juliet

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Lowry’s Open prep given timely boost with closing 66 at Mount Juliet

Shane Lowry (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Shane Lowry will begin preparations for his Open Championship defence in good spirits after signing off on his week at Mount Juliet with a superb bogey-free six-under par 66 at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

Lowry bounced back from a moving day 74 with six birdies in a magnificent final round effort, climbing the leaderboard to a tie for 23rd at nine-under par, home and hosed before Aussie Lucas Herbert took to the course before completing a wire-to-wire win.

It might not have been the week the 2009 Champion had envisaged upon entering the European Tour bubble in Kilkenny but by signing off in style, Lowry can now turn his hand to links preparation, where he’ll skip next week’s Scottish Open ahead of his Open defence at Royal St. George’s.

“More like it is right,” Lowry reflected. “That’s probably why I’ve been so frustrated over the first few days because I feel like I have that round in me. It was an easy 6-under today. Nothing really special. It was kind of one of those days where probably could have been better. Happy with a little bit of confidence taking my week off before Royal St. George’s.

“I’m excited and looking forward to playing some links golf in Ireland here next week and looking forward to getting over to St. George’s on Monday. The week, it will be nice, obviously I’m there to defend. I’m there to play good golf and I’m there to finish as high up as I can, and you know, obviously everything that goes with defending an Open is going to be there, and it’s going to be new for me so I’ll have to learn quickly.

“I’ll be fine I think. I’m used to having that kind of label on my head and it’s fine. I’ll just go there and be myself and play my own game and hopefully it’s good enough to have a chance at the weekend.”

Rory McIlroy will be hoping to use next week’s Renaissance Club assignment to build the momentum Lowry found on Sunday at Mount Juliet after struggling to a two-over 74 in Kilkenny.

McIlroy erased a second hole double-bogey with a fifth hole eagle and after trading a bogey with a birdie on 12 and 13, the world number 10 dropped shots at his closing two holes; a two-under tournament tally for a share of 56th not ideal as he turns his attention to the Scottish.

“I didn’t drive the ball well at all,” he said. “I didn’t hit a fairway with my driver. The rest of the game actually feels okay, irons, but when you’re not putting the ball in the fairway, it’s hard to score.

“Yeah, I just need to do some work with the driver and get the ball — in some ways, it’s nice going to two links courses the next two weeks because there isn’t as much of an emphasis as hitting driver as a course like here, so sort of looking forward to that. I feel like I’ve got a pretty good 2-iron that I can hit a lot the next couple of weeks and at least get the ball in play because I feel like when I get the ball in play, I can actually play from there.”

Ardglass professional Cormac Sharvin can take plenty of encouragement from his seven-under par total, good enough for a share of 33rd and a cheque worth €21,783. Sharvin had got to 10-under par with back-to-back bogeys on 11 and 12 but a dropped shot on 13 was followed by two bogeys to finish as Sharvin signed for a closing even par round of 72.

Tournament host Graeme McDowell bookended his tournament with two-over 74s for a share of 56th at three-under par.

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