Shane Lowry has come to the defence of Rory McIlroy declaring he’s deserves a break from the criticism of not contesting this year’s Irish Open.
After formally advising he would not be teeing-up at Lahinch, McIlroy has come under renewed criticism with the formal confirmation that he will contest the following week’s Scottish Open.
Lowry reckons, given McIlroy’s contribution to bringing the Irish Open back from the brink, that the four-time Major winner deserves plaudits and not brickbats.
“I saw that Rory McIlroy was getting a bit of stick about playing in the Scottish Open, but swerving the Irish Open,” said Lowry writing in his Paddy Power column.
“I know Rory quite well and he reckons that this year’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush is probably the biggest tournament that he’s ever going to play in his life.
“He said he’d rather win that over anything else. That’s how much he wants to win that tournament.
“He wants to prepare as well as he can for Royal Portrush. If that means he’ll miss the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and play the Scottish Open instead, I understand why. But not everyone seems to realise that.
“He’s been getting a lot of stick for not playing in the Irish Open at Lahinch, but the Irish Open was basically gone a couple of years ago until he came in and saved it”.
Lowry jetted back into Dublin on Tuesday after he and McIlroy shared eighth place in last Sunday’s concluding PGA Championship.
The effort was Lowry’s second-best finish in 25 Majors behind his T2nd in the 2016 U.S. Open, with the Offaly golfer chuffed with his finish on what he says is one of the toughest golf courses he’s competed.
“I think Bethpage last week was potentially the toughest course I’ve ever played. The conditions were quite wet and cold and that made it a bit tougher,” he said.
“It’s up there with Oakmont, (where he finished second to Dustin Johnson in the 2016 US Open) as being the toughest I’ve ever played. Bethpage Black was more of a US Open-style setup.
“A USPGA course is normally set up a little bit easier to give you a double digit score, but only Brooks Koepka managed to hit double figures. While I didn’t have the best of starts, it was great to have three really good rounds and finish tied-eighth, overall.
“I felt I didn’t play that badly on the Thursday, but I just scored badly and made the most mistakes I possibly could have in one day. I paid the course a bit too much respect. In saying that, I didn’t really change my game plan for the next two days.
“I just felt I played a little bit better and I scored better. You can’t really chase on the golf course because you find yourself making bogeys, stupid bogeys. Obviously, I knew what I needed to do on the Friday to make the cut, which was to go out and play very well. That’s what I did.”
And while Lowry looks forward to a 10-day rest at home with his young family, he can put his feet-up safe in the knowledge that he’s moved up to No. 39 in the world and his highest World Ranking in some three years.
It means Lowry is into the U.S. Open and joins Open Champions, Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke and McIlroy in the July 18th commencing Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
“When you play well in a Major, it helps you everywhere, so it was great to do that last weekend and I’m looking forward to the next couple of months,” he said also in his column.
“They’ll be busy”.