Shane Lowry says the Horizon Irish Open can only benefit from a date change, identifying the week after The Open Championship as the best chance to entice the game’s leading players to the island.
Lowry was speaking from the Jameson Distillery upon being unveiled as a new global Ambassador for the iconic Irish whiskey brand in a three-year deal. Asked by Irish Golfer Magazine about what it would take to attract some of golf’s best players back to the tournament, Lowry believes the date holds the key to unlocking an improved field next year at The K Club.
“I would love to see it the week after The Open,” Lowry said.
“Imagine the week after The Open, somewhere near Dublin, make it easy for the players to stay in Dublin. I’m sure it would appeal to some of the American players.
“This sounds like I’m dropping it in but you get to come to places like this, the Jameson Distillery. If they come, they can do all the sight-seeing in Dublin.
“I’ve always said that Hilton Head is my favourite week of the year because I can go and have a little holiday with my family and I play the tournament and it’s a really nice place to go after the Masters.
“Even talking to some of the guys that were around for the [JP] Pro-Am, they’ve never really spent much time in Ireland and they’ve absolutely loved their time here. I think that might entice them to come back, especially if it’s somewhere near Dublin – or even somewhere down the country – just somewhere nice that would create a festival of golf.”
Lowry was speaking as the Scottish Open teed off in the Renaissance Club with 14 of the world’s top-15 players lining out in Scotland ahead of next week’s Open at the Home of Golf. Not only is the Scottish showpiece benefitting from its enviable spot in the schedule next to golf’s oldest Major but it’s also reaping the rewards of its co-sanctioning as part of the PGA/DP World Tour alliance, a move that Lowry can’t envisage in the Irish Open’s future.
“I don’t think that’s the way the PGA Tour and DP World Tour are trying to go about things,” Lowry said.
“The Scottish Open obviously works perfect because a lot of the American players want to come over and play the week before The Open, it clearly works really well.
“[As i said] I think we should talk about trying to find a new date for the Irish Open – I don’t think co-sanctioning would work, I’m not sure.
“Look, obviously if it did it would help me immensely because it would be a tournament for both tours but speaking to the two tours, I don’t think that’s what they have in mind for it. I just think they want to make the Irish Open a big tournament in its own right. That seems to be the plan going forward.”
Lowry famously won the Irish Open as an amateur at Baltray in 2009 and he warned that people should be careful what they wish for when it comes to a possible co-sanctioning with the PGA Tour in future given the impact it could have on Irish players accessing the tournament.
“Even you look at the Scottish Open, there are a number of European Tour players who aren’t in the field because it’s co-sanctioned and a lot of PGA Tour players, rightly so, are taking their spots,” Lowry explained.
“If the Irish Open was co-sanctioned, I think it’s less starts for the European Tour players and obviously less starts for the Irish players, and amateurs as well. I’m not sure it would necessarily be a good thing for the tournament.”
While Lowry opted out of a trip to North Berwick this week, his Open prep is well underway as he looks to sharpen his links game ahead of a crack at capturing another Claret Jug.
With Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy also remaining on the island to hone their links skills, there’ll be opportunists hoping to get front row seats to the prep rounds, much like those lucky enough to find themselves in Tralee to witness Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler last week.
Woods was understandably unwilling to give up his practice locations earlier this week at the JP McManus Pro-Am but Lowry was happy to let the people know that he’d be sticking around Dublin before next week’s 150th celebration.
“I could tell you where Tiger and Rory are going,” Lowry joked. “I think I’m going to go out to Portmarnock this afternoon and I’m not sure where I’m going the next few days but it will be somewhere near Dublin.
“I might try and take a trip to Baltray, it might bring back some good memories. I did that the week before Portrush but I’m just around Dublin the next few days and will be trying to get as much prep in as I can.”
To find out more about Jameson visit www.jamesonwhiskey.com/en-ie/. Follow the conversation on social #WidenTheCircle @jamesonwhiskey
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