Shane Lowry maintains that his game is very close as he prepares for his latest crack at the Open Championship starting tomorrow at Carnoustie.
The Clara man has struggled to string four rounds together this season but has shown in patches some of the ability that seemed to come so easy to him for a time.
Together with coach Neil Manchip and caddie Dermot, Lowry is hoping that a change in approach might pay dividends this week as he goes in search of a first Major title.
“We talked about it and maybe I have had a bit too much draw biased over the last while and I have just been trying to straighten out my ball flight,” Lowry began.
“It is perfect wind for it on the range today [Tuesday] – a lovely right to left wind so you can hold some up. So I am trying to straighten up my ball flight, hit some fades and get the control back in my game.
“I feel like I have been trying to hit the ball too hard over the last while. When I get to a number, it always seems to be, ‘Can I get this club there?’ rather than thinking, ‘What club do I need to hit the shot?
“That’s the way I have been feeling. I hit it nice this afternoon and played eight holes, hit it decent and hit maybe 50 balls on the range and I am happy with the way it is going.”
Lowry will be looking to end a run of three straight missed Open cuts when he tees it up on the treacherous links but he’s looked to play down past performances, refusing to get caught up in results that only bear relevance to history at this point.
“Last year [Birkdale} the draw wasn’t really on my side, which can happen at an Open,” he reflected. “In St Andrews I made an eight on the 17th in round one and when you make an eight in any tournament, it’s very tough to compete. Then the other one was in Troon and I had a really bad first day and rallied to nearly make the cut.
“People are probably finding it hard to believe I’ve missed the last three cuts in the Open because they see me as a good links player. But I don’t think about it like that.
“I played the Irish Open a few weeks ago and felt like I played decent in a lot of parts. So hopefully I can go out in Carnoustie, which is a course I like and a course I’ve shot good scores on, and do the business this week.”
There’s no denying that it’s been a frustrating season for the Offaly man to date but buoyed by recent showings and encouraged by a track that fits his eye, Lowry is adamant that a return to his best form is imminent and sees no reason why it shouldn’t happen this week at Carnoustie.
“I’ve been saying for a few weeks that I don’t think I am far away. Sometimes you can feel like you are miles away but I really don’t. And from the research that Dermot has done over the last week, he wouldn’t be one to bluff me and he thinks we could be very close to something.
“I am just out here trying to do my best. I have a nice early tee time on Thursday, which is nice. Just get out there, hopefully there won’t be much wind and hopefully I can make a few pars and birdies and see what happens.”
To achieve that Lowry envisages himself adopting the more traditional links approach of plotting his way around as opposed to the murmurs that some bombers in the field will attempt to overpower the famous old links.
“I think the guys who want to hit drivers everywhere, let them off and if I’m wrong I’ll obviously eat my words at the end of the week. But I don’t think it’s driver everywhere this week. I think you need to get the ball in play, get the ball on the short grass and have control with your iron shots then.”
And what would it take for us to see the name Lowry return to the first page of a leaderboard this week?
“You know,” he says with a big sigh, “I feel like I’ve been having three out of four good rounds every week for the last while. And I feel like if I somehow got to Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning in contention, I feel like that could get me there; I could top it off with the fourth.”
I guess there’s only one way to find out.