No strangers to team competition having represented Ireland in the past two World Cup of Golf events, the Irish duo of Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell are ready for this week’s Greg Norman hosted QBE Shootout at the Tiburon resort course in Naples, Florida.
En route to the Florida west coast, Lowry, who is closing out his 2017 exploits this weekend spent a couple of days at the Orlando home of Graeme McDowell where the duo warmed-up for this week’s $US 3.3m event featuring six pairings.
“Graeme and I know each other’s game very well and on that basis alone I think we can do well in the event,” said Lowry.
“But then I have to say it was really hard to get myself out of bed earlier this week and jump on a flight to the States but then I had two nice days at G Mac’s house along with a few games at Lake Nona.”
“I also like the golf course as it suits my eye and being a resort course, there is a lot of birdie chances out there.”
Lowry and McDowell contested Wednesday’s Pro-Am in very hot and humid conditions as Christmas carols could be heard coming from the clubhouse. After the pro-am commitments, the Irish duo who are the only none-US team in this year’s field found their way to the practice range where McDowell spoke of his excitement this week.
“The good thing this week is that Shane and I have played a lot of team golf together including two World Cup’s, so we have spent a lot of time together also playing many practice rounds,” said McDowell.
“I have a huge amount respect for his game and he’s a hell of a player who drives it straight and has one of the best short games in the world. He was up at my place on Sunday and Monday so we had a nice night down at Nona Blue on Sunday night and then hit balls at Lake Nona Monday and Tuesday while there was a session in the gym Monday morning so it’s been busy.”
“Shane’s had a great end to his season going so close to winning in Dubai and I’ve had a fairly positive end of my season, so it all goes well for this week.”
Looking into 2018 Lowry is also excited at the thought of celebrating his first event of the New Year with a tee-time alongside Tiger Woods.
Lowry will launch his inaugural Florida-based assault on the lucrative 2017/18 PGA Tour at the January 25th commencing Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines laid out along the Pacific Ocean near San Diego.
Tiger Woods also is expected to announce he will resume full competition at the same event after an impressive return to form at last week’s Hero World Challenge. And while resting back home last week with his young family Lowry found himself, like golf enthusiasts around the globe, glued to the ‘box’ watching Woods muscle his way to an impressive share of ninth place in the Bahamas.
“I normally watch a lot of golf on TV when I am at home but I would never sit down for long hours and watch it but I was mesmerised and found myself watching practically the entire coverage of Tiger’s rounds,” said Lowry.
“Tiger was very impressive, he’s good enough and coming back at the Famers, as most are predicting, then he might get a tee time alongside me (smiling). Tiger is like one of my, well…. I can’t say he was the reason I got into golf but when I started playing golf in the late 1990s and early 2000s that is when Tiger was at his best.”
“When I was a kid one of my closest friends, who was actually my second cousin, lived two doors up from our house and he and I every Thursday through to Sunday would watch Tiger competing and when he wasn’t on the TV coverage and competing we were a little disappointed.”
“So, Tiger was definitely part of the reason I began to play golf.”
“I can say now standing here is that I do have my name on at least one trophy that Tiger has but then he’s won eight WGC – Bridgestone Invitational’s so I have some catching-up to do (smiling).”
Lowry and McDowell will tee-off at 3.45pm Irish time and paired with the American pair of Billy Horschel and Jason Dufner in a ‘scramble’ format.