Back-to-back rounds of 68 have Shane Lowry firmly in contention heading into the weekend at the Horizon Irish Open but he came off the 18th green feeling so much better about things after a strong finish.
Golf is a funny game, he shot the same score as his opening round and he still trails Shubhankar Sharma and Jordan Smith by five shots after 36 holes, but to finish birdie, birdie has given him a pep in his step as he looks to launch a charge at a second Irish Open title at the K Club.
“Yeah it’s nice. Look, obviously, to birdie the last two was a little bit of a nicer finish than it was yesterday it just feels a lot better today even though it’s the same score,” said Lowry who became the only amateur to win the Irish Open when he beat Robert Rock in a playoff in 2009.
“I’m in a lovely position going into the weekend now obviously a few shots back, but I’m kind of right where you want to be, get out there tomorrow and get after it and hopefully shoot another good score and give myself a chance on Sunday.
“I’m very happy with a couple of days work.”
The Clara man who is hoping for a large Offaly following on Sunday is on eight-under-par after carding six birdies and two bogeys. Two birdies and a bogey in his first four holes set the tone for the day and he rode that momentum with two quick fire gains on 8 and 9 to turn in 32.
The tenth hole has proved a slow burner all week and after being held up for quite a while on the tee, that much needed momentum seemed to leave Lowry as he carded five straight pars before a clumsy three-putt bogey on 15. Having failed to birdie 16 after laying up from the fairway, he did, however, bounce back with two closing birdies from 20 feet and a foot, to leave him in a good place heading into the weekend.
“I’ve made a lot of birdies over the last few days, which is nice a couple of bogeys which I disappointed with today, but that’s golf.
“I’m happy where I’m at. I’m playing decent golf. I’ve got a huge month ahead of me and, you know, I’m happy. I have a huge weekend ahead of me. I‘ve been very fortunate to win this tournament before, but I love not more than the opportunity to do that again.”
Roared on by large crowds at a sun kissed K Club, Lowry may have Ryder Cup pressure off his shoulders but he admits he still feels weighed down by the burden of expectation and trying to get over the line on home soil for the first time as a professional.
“The whole week I kind of struggle with, you know, in my head more than anything, you have to get yourself mentally right, expectations are a tough thing in sport we’re going to see that over the next two months of the rugby team.
“I think, you just have to get out of your own way and let yourself do what you do best. I’ve done that very well over the last few days and, I did some good practice this week, had some great chats with Neil and I felt like I got myself in a good frame of mind to go play golf yesterday and today and I just need to do that again.”
Lowry is the leading Irishman in ninth place but he was full of praise for the next man in line Mark Power who is alongside Rory McIlroy on five-under after an excellent showing on his professional debut.
“What score is he on? Five-under? Amazing. I mean, I won my first tournament but sure we’ll say nothing about that,” joked Lowry. “Not as a pro but, no fair play to him. It’s great. It’s great to see.
“Last week was a huge week for him and GB&I come up a little bit short and to see him out here doing his thing this week with Dermot on the in the bag as well my old caddie it’s nice and hopefully he can have a good weekend, make a few quid and help him in the right direction in the pro ranks.”