Shane Lowry returns to European Tour action in Italy knowing that a good week could see him leapfrog Jon Rahm in the Race to Dubai pecking order.
Rahm arrived in Madrid last week trailing 97 points behind Lowry, and with the Clara man busy with his daughter Iris back in Dublin, the Spaniard took advantage of his absence – his win in the Capital seeing Rahm move 358 points clear in the standings.
Lowry had been atop the rankings since capturing the Open Championship but can rectify the placings at this week’s $US7m Italian Open in Rome with Rahm and Lowry not set to tee-up at the same European Tour event until the October 31st starting WGC- HSBC Champions in Shanghai.
“Yeah, obviously I’d love to pass him out this week, but ultimately, it’s just going to matter who is No. 1 at the end of November,” Lowry said.
“I’ve got plenty of events left. I feel like my game is good enough. I feel like I can give it a good go. I’m very excited about it. It would be a great end to what has already been a great year for me.
“Look, if I win The Race to Dubai, it will be great. If I don’t, I’m not going to sit home and cry about it, but obviously it would be a huge thing for me to achieve. So I’m going to give it my best every day to shoot the best scores I can to, you know, at the end of the year, hopefully win that trophy.”
This week represents Lowry’s first trip to Rome and in his time away from the golf course, he’s keen to make the most of the visit.
“Italy is great, isn’t it?” he added. “I love coming here. We actually came to Italy on our honeymoon, so it’s a place I like coming, and obviously great food, great people.
“I’ve never been to Rome, so it’s nice to be in the city and take a stroll around there in the evenings. It’s just a nice event, and it’s going to be an exciting week. Hopefully I can play well and give myself a chance at the weekend.”
Joining Lowry in Rome will be Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell, a winner of the event in 2004 while Paul Dunne also returns to action as his chase for form continues.
This week’s trip to Olgiata Golf Club could prove significant with the 44 world rankings points on offer to the winner almost doubt that of the PGA Tour’s Houston Open where Seamus Power is in the field.
While a big week could see Lowry burst into the top-10 in the world for a first occasion, Dunne will be out to steady a ship that has been in rough seas for some time.
His 8 missed cuts from 10 events between June and September saw the Greystones golfer split with caddie Darren Reynolds and while his current Race to Dubai points tally puts him on track to retain his card for next year, a big week at a Rolex Series event could see the struggles of this season thus far quickly forgotten.
RACE TO DUBAI RANKINGS – Irish
2nd Shane Lowry (Down one)
27th Rory McIlroy (Unchanged)
111th Paul Dunne (Down 5 places)
149th Graeme McDowell (Unchanged)
145th Padraig Harrington (Down one place)
161st Gavin Moynihan (Down two)
Italian Open tee-times (Irish time)
07.10 – Graeme McDowell
07.30 – Shane Lowry
08.00 – Paul Dunne
12.20 – Padraig Harrington
Full scoring HERE