It’s been a bit of a stop-start beginning to 2024 for Shane Lowry who opened with a four-under 67 in conditions that were anything but desert-like at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but he’s been happy with the way his preparations are going with Augusta National and the year’s first Major Championship just two months away.
“No, I didn’t play,” he responded when asked if there was anything specific that he’d been working on over the past few months. “I haven’t played a whole lot of tournaments since the Ryder Cup. I played once in November, then my first one was Palm Springs. I missed the cut there, but I shot 12-under. So, it was one of those where probably should have been better, but I was pretty happy where my game was at.
“Then, Torrey Pines I finished like middle of the pack [T25], but I was pretty happy with how I played that week. Practice has been going pretty well at home. I went out today and showed that, you know, I can still play at the odd time. I know I just need to kind of keep going, like I’m building, trying to build for the big weeks. I have a bit of a weird schedule this year. I’m not in some of the big tournaments, which is pretty annoying to be sitting at home watching those on TV, so it kind of gives me that little bit of motivation to kind of play as good as I can this week to get into next week.”
Next week, of course, is the Genesis Invitational hosted by Tiger Woods at Los Angeles’ Riviera Country Club, and the tournament was boosted by the confirmation earlier this week that Woods will make his competitive PGA Tour return.
Courtesy of finishing outside the top 50 in last year’s FedEx Cup standings, Lowry is not exempt into the ‘Signature Events’, but as he confessed, his exclusion wasn’t for the want of trying, admitting to writing off asking for sponsors’ invitations but to no avail.
Still, a good performance this week could yet yield an invitation, but there is something bigger looming just over the horizon and he’s not finished outside the top 25 in his last four visits to Augusta National, including a third-place finish in 2022.
“Yeah, obviously those events on the PGA Tour are huge,” he said, “but I obviously look at the Masters in April is a huge goal, and everything over the next few months is kind of gearing towards that. If anything, I feel like I played too much at the start of last year, because I had to play all the designated events. Whereas, this year I’m going to have a little bit more time off, a little bit more rest and a little bit more time to practice, which is nice as well.”