Shane Lowry: It was good to show I could win in proper dogfight

Shane Lowry believes winning for the first time in a 'proper dogfight' can help get him back in the major mix again after seeing his confidence dented by blowing a four-shot lead in the final round of the 2016 US Open.

Shane Lowry of Ireland reacts after winning the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. Picture: Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images
Shane Lowry of Ireland reacts after winning the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. Picture: Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images

The 31-year-old Irishman recovered from seeing a three-shot overnight cushion on this occasion turn into a four-shot deficit with seven holes to play to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Saturday.

It was Lowry’s first victory since landing the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio in 2015 and, in addition to a cheque worth just over £900,000, will earn him a return to the world’s top 50 when the rankings are updated today.

“I think that, going forward, winning that way will be better for me than maybe coasting to a five or six-shot win, because it was good to show I could pull off the victory in a proper dogfight,” said the Offaly man as he reflected on his success in the UAE.

Bidding to land a wire-to-wire win, Lowry looked beaten after he’d been overtaken by his playing partner, South African Richard Sterne, but, in a dramatic finish, he followed a gutsy par save at the penultimate hole with a title-winning birdie at the par-5 18th.

“When I won the Bridgestone, I came from two back and won by two so I wasn’t under the same sort of pressure, and my win in Portugal [in 2012] came when Ross Fisher three-putted the last to hand it to me,” added Lowry, who is coached by Edinburgh man Neil Manchip.

“Obviously there was a lot of pressure on me when I won the Irish Open [as an amateur in 2009], but that was after a play-off when I was the big underdog. I showed a lot of balls out there this time – I had to – and I’m proud of that. I really feel like guts and determination won it for me this time.”

Lowry reckons he had lacked such “bottle” when opening the door for Dustin Johnson to win the aforementioned US Open at Oakmont. His goal now is to give himself a chance like that again and prove a lot of people right by showing that he has the game to become Ireland’s next major champion.

“People have accused me of being a bit of an under-achiever, but I don’t think that is fair when you consider how hard it is to win out here,” he said. “I feel like I’ve achieved quite a bit and I’m still only 31. I would hope to still be playing at the top level at least until my mid-40s, so hopefully there’s a fair bit still to come.

“And the thing is, it’s got tougher and tougher these past few years with so many fearless college kids coming out with all guns blazing, and so many quality players at the top of the world rankings. A few of them were here, which makes this one even more special.”

Adding to a successful weekend for Irish golf, Lowry’s compatriot Conor Purcell won the Australian Amateur Championship after beating home hope Nathan Barbieri at the first extra hole at Woodlands Golf Club in Melbourne. Purcell is the first Irishman to claim the title in the event’s 125-year history.