Shane Lowry embraces the big time after US Open near miss

Smile please: Shane Lowry's profile has risen since he finished tied for second place at the US Open at Oakmont last month. Picture: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Smile please: Shane Lowry's profile has risen since he finished tied for second place at the US Open at Oakmont last month. Picture: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

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Negative thoughts have been banished and Shane Lowry is in relaxed mood. The guy who came close but not quite close enough at the US Open last month is paraphrasing Gloria Gaynor and looking forward to tackling Royal Troon. He is also laughing, alot.

The retreat into the chasing pack on the back nine at Oakmont left him in a gloomier mood as Dustin Johnson overhauled him to claim a major title. But, that was then and this is now.

“I’m not crying myself to sleep every night,” he said. The smile and the bubbly demeanour added credence to the claim. “I’ll survive! It’s just one of those things. I’m well and truly over it. My God, I’m much further along in my career. Before the US Open I was nowhere near the Ryder Cup team. Now I’ve put myself in the reckoning for it. I’m well up. I’m into the FedExCup definitely now. I’m moving back up the world rankings. So it’s all positives.

“I’m not going to lie, there were a few moments where there might have been a tear shed or two. That’s just the way it is. That’s the game we play. But I know I’ll give myself a chance again. It’s just up to me to kind of learn from the mistakes of that Sunday afternoon and bring that into the next one.”

This is the next one and he now has four days to right the wrongs. He doesn’t look like he is a man wrestling demons or worrying about his ability to complete that task.

Teeing off at 9.03am today, in a group that also includes former World No 1 Jordan 
Spieth and another major winner, Justin Rose, the amiable Irishman is relishing the challenge and the spotlight that will be turned on such a talented trio.

“I have a really good group, and I’m looking forward to that. I can’t wait. That’s where I want to be. I’ve been in plenty of sh***y groups over the years, so with all due respect to the golfers….” Catching himself he shook his head in amused self-deprecation.

“I shouldn’t say that, should I?” He asked, as the assembled media chuckled. “But you know what I mean. I’ve been like last off and first off. I don’t mean by the players I was playing with, I meant the times more so…. Oh God!” he added before he stopped digging.

“But yeah, it’s where you want to be in the world of golf, playing with the best players in the world and trying to compete against those.

“I genuinely believe that I, without sounding too cocky, I like the big-time play. I like the big tournaments. I love playing in front of the big crowds. I love playing late on Saturdays and Sundays. I think it’s kind of where you want to be. Obviously I had a good win last year and I’ve been up there in a few majors here and there. I just love it, I love the heat of competing at the highest level. There’s no greater buzz in the world. It’s what I go out and play golf for.”

Two years ago, at The Open at Hoylake he finished tied for ninth, he repeated that top 10 finish at the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay before having to settle for second place at Oakmont. He believes he is ready to make the next step and can envisage himself standing on the 18th green on Sunday being hailed as the Champion Golfer of the Year and raising aloft the Claret Jug but he says he won’t undermine himself by trying to force it. “If you look at the last two weeks it’s been a bit like that,” said the 29-year-old. “I probably have been expecting a bit too much of myself, trying too hard. Trying to get up to the top of the leaderboard too quickly and just not staying as patient as I have been for a good bit of the year.”

And with the weather unlikely to be the factor it often can be at Open Championships, good play, and patience rather than good fortune are likely to be the determining factor.

“I’ve been thinking about it over the past couple of days, trying to come up with a winning score in my head. We got to Oakmont and everyone knew it was going to be brutal, how tough it was, and we were kind of ready for that. Troon’s kind of a different golf course as in, if you play really well, you can shoot a really good score around here. You can really make a good score on the front nine and you can hold on to it on the back nine.

“You’ve got to keep trying to make pars, stay confident, stay patient. I think at some stage on the front nine or on a few holes this week, you’ll get on a run to make four birdies in a row and you just have to kind of wait for those moments to happen.”

But, in confident mood, he even declared the infamous Postage Stamp par-3 had “felt quite easy” in practice. “If it wasn’t famous, you’d probably stand up and think this is the easiest par-3 in the world. But I haven’t played it in a tournament, so it’s probably going to be a little bit more intimidating [on Thursday] than it has been the last couple of days.”

In the heat of battle, things always seem slightly different. At Oakmont he wilted. This week, he is determined not to repeat his mistakes.

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