It’s fair to say that it’s been a bit of a head scratcher, old 2018, from an Irish golfing point of view. Gone are the days that you tune in late to an event to find a leaderboard littered with tri-colours.
Shane Lowry / Image from Getty Images
Where at one stage that was the expectation, this season has been anything but as our golden generation faded into relative obscurity amongst the elite of the game. There’s still time for that all to change of course and I’m hoping the man to spearhead a revival will be Shane Lowry, starting with this week’s British Masters at Walton Heath.
Lowry’s last couple of years shared between European Tour commitments and his failed attempt to break America have been frustrating to say the least but he’s not as far away as people think. It’s been a period of transition for Shane, one that people must come to accept as the norm for the modern day athlete.
A career in golf is long; where a rugby player or a footballer calls time at 35 if they’re lucky, a golfer’s feet can remain firmly planted to the fairways long into their fifties. There has to be time allotted to meeting a partner, starting a family, finding a place to call home. Lowry has played on with that welcomed distraction in recent years but now happily married and in the midst of fatherhood, the stability that has come to be his private life should no doubt soon translate to his game.
He’s come a long way since he bought the most audacious round of drinks I’ve ever laid eyes upon in Copper Face Jacks when invited along to our golf operations team Christmas party at Carton House. Back then the game came easy to him, his growing profile came with an innocence of youth and it was clear to see that he didn’t realise the full reach of his potential. He was never going to be the player to bash balls all day and clock thousands of miles on the putting green but as the people of Ireland fell in love with an ordinary man with an extraordinary talent, expectation grew.
Nobody seems to be harder on Shane Lowry than the man himself and it’s only now that he’s come to expect what the rest of us pressured him into expecting from himself much sooner, that his game has struggled. Yet with five top-20’s on the PGA Tour last term including a T12 at the PGA Championship when he was right in the mix on Sunday, it’s clear to see that Lowry’s not all that far away.
A missed cut last week at the Dunhill can be forgiven and now alongside new caddie, Bo Martin, in a partnership that debuted with a 6thplace finish in Portugal last month, Lowry can revive a season with a stirring finish back on familiar European soil. He thrives on a British Master layout, securing Top-10s at Close House and Woburn over the last three years and he’ll be hoping to muster some strong memories to kick-start his surge towards Dubai.
With Rory McIlroy leading the way from an Irish perspective in the world rankings at number 5, Lowry enters this week a long way from the coveted top-50 at number 86, but he knows one big week between now and the end of the season could change all that.
With Padraig Harrington at 176, this week’s British Masters defending champ, Paul Dunne at 98 and Graeme McDowell at a lowly world number 213, Ireland’s struggling tour contingent needs some inspiration from somewhere in order to spring a revival.
Our country may be small but our golfing potential remains enormous. Lowry epitomises that. He just needs to salvage the remains of the happy place that his career was built upon and start swinging with a smile once he gets there to reap the benefits.