Shane Lowry says he has no issue sharing his workplace this week with 18 LIV rebels as he firmly focusses on his own ambitions of becoming the first Irishman to make the famous walk into the Butler Cabin on Sunday.
It’s hard to recall a Masters preamble so packed with drama as the splintered forces atop the world of men’s professional golf gather for the year’s first Major at Augusta.
Lowry has been a vocal critic of the Saudi-backed tour since its arrival, declaring his victory at the BMW PGA at Wentworth last September as ‘one for the good guys’ as tempers flared off the course between former friends and allies.
Much of the talk this week will be dominated by how those personalities will fare entangled amongst the Georgia pines but for Lowry’s part in the play, he’ll knuckle down to work safe in the knowledge that not everyone gets along in any walk of life.
“Look, there’s obviously going to be some pairings that are interesting this week,” Lowry said. “I have played in Europe over the last year, so I have played the same tournaments as them all (LIV players) a lot, so it doesn’t make any difference to me. At the end of the day, we are all out there trying to win this tournament. I will have a look, obviously.
“It is one of those where listen, I always say this about professional golfers. We all work in the same office. If you work in the same office building as 90 people, you not going to like everybody in there, so that is the way it is.
“You walk down the range, and you have your friends and those hopefully you get on well with, and I think that’s the same with the LIV guys.
“I met Dustin [Johnson] on the green this morning [Monday]. I have always got on well with Dustin. It was nice to see him. I am not saying the media have hyped it up, there is a lot to hype up, but it is what it is. If you are paired with whoever this week, you don’t really care what they are doing, you are focused on yourself. You are just trying to win this tournament.”
The goal for Lowry will be to treat this week like he would any other. That’s easier said than done on any given Masters week, never mind a week where personalities could clash, but Lowry is content to stick to his game-plan as much as possible regardless of what Tuesday’s draw for the first two days could bring.
“It depends on who you have,” Lowry said. “If you are playing with a guy you get on well with and is really talkative, you will talk, and if you’re not you just keep yourself to yourself.
“The thing with weeks like this is you want to make them as close to normal weeks as you can. Obviously, they are not, and if it comes to the business end of things on Sunday, I can’t imagine you are going to be talking to the guy you’re playing with going down 15.
“It is not another week because it is the Masters and there is a lot at stake at the end of it, but it is another week at the end of the day that you’re just trying to play golf.”
One point of difference on the golf course that Lowry must face head on this week is the changes to the par-5 13th. A 35-yard extension has transformed the playability of the once gettable last hurdle of Amen Corner and Lowry’s strategy will likely change as a result.
“Thirteen for me is probably going to be a three-shotter,” he said. “A good drive any time I have played here over the last few weeks, a good drive leaves 220-230 front, so it is very risky going for that. It is very much risk-reward.
“If you are standing there Sunday with 220 front and you have to go for it, that will be interesting. But for me, I see myself probably laying up and leave myself a good number.
“I’m not disappointed at all with the change. It is probably going to make the hole play a little bit harder. I don’t think it makes it play worse.”
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