Shane Lowry on 'mad' money, his debt to Tiger Woods and new Hero Cup

Sitting in a buggy at the bottom end of the range at the exclusive Albany Resort in the Bahamas, a smile creased on Shane Lowry’s face as he was asked how he felt landing a $2 million end-of-season bonus through the PGA Tour’s Player Impact Programme. “It was $3 million actually, but I’ll let you off with it,” he said with a hearty laugh.

Shane Lowry, pictured during the recent DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, is making his debut this week in the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.
Shane Lowry, pictured during the recent DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, is making his debut this week in the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.

In its second year, the PIP rewarded the top 20 players who are shown to generate the most positive interest in the PGA Tour, with Tiger Woods scooping the biggest pot, $15m, for the second year in a row while Rory McIlroy (£12m) and Matt Fitzpatrick ($5m) were among the others on the 2022 list.

“It’s mad, to be honest,” admitted Lowry, speaking to The Scotsman before hitting some balls under the watchful eye of his trusty coach, Edinburgh man Neil Manchip, in preparation for a debut appearance in this week’s Hero World Challenge.

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“Look, it’s obviously very financially rewarding for myself and I’m not going to complain about it. But I personally don’t like the talk about the amount of money that is being thrown about by LIV and elevated events (on the PGA Tour) and all that.

Shane Lowry shows off the BMW PGA Championship trophy alongside his coach Neil Manchip, who is out with him in the Bahamas this week. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images.

“I feel like I am playing for tournaments and good finishes as opposed to money, but it is amazing to think I finished 12th among the 20 most influential players on the PGA Tour. That’s really nice and pretty cool.

“I can use that for certain things, selling myself to sponsors, for instance, but I believe a lot of it comes down to good golf and I feel I have played a lot of good golf this year. As a result of that, I’ve been on TV a lot.”

The highlight of the 35-year-old’s campaign came in September at Wentworth, where he held off both McIlroy and Jon Rahm to win the BMW PGA Championship - his first success since being crowned as Open champion at Royal Portrush more than three years earlier.

“I’m pretty happy with what I’ve done this year,” he admitted, smiling once more. “There were a couple of things I didn’t achieve that I would have liked, including not making the Tour Championship. I contended in one of the four majors, being up there in The Masters for a while. I won a big tournament and I achieved a lot of what I wanted to achieve this year.

Dr Pawan Munjal, Chairman and CEO of Hero MotoCorp, and Guy Kinnings, European Ryder Cup Director and the DP World Tour’s Deputy CEO and Chief Commercial Officer, shake on the new Hero Cup. Picture: Warren Little/Getty Images.

“When I sit down in a couple of weeks and talk to Neil and the lads in my team back home, we’ll go round the table and have a chat about it and I’ll be very happy as I think it’s been quite a successful season. Apart from 2019, it’s probably been my best year on tour.”

Already looking forward to a much-needed break with his wife, Wendy, and their two youngsters, Lowry is excited about teeing up for the first time in an event that Tiger Woods hosts for his TGR Foundation.

“I’ve got invited once or twice before and not come, so it’s nice to be here finally,“ he said of being part of a 20-player field that includes three of this year’s major winners - Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas and Fitzpatrick - as well as recent DP World Tour Championship winner Rahm and defending champion Viktor Hovland. “It’s Tiger Woods, at the end of the day, and you want to support him and his event. Anything he puts his name to is something you’re delighted to be involved in.

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“It’s obviously disappointing that he’s not playing as I am sure he’d love to see how his game is, but I am sure that the one thing on his mind is trying to get fit for The Masters and everyone will be hoping to see him back to his best in tournaments like that.

“I always say that I believe the reason we make the money we do and have the things we have is because of Tiger Woods. As professional golfers who have played in the Tiger Woods era over the past 20 years, we should be very grateful for what he’s done for the game.”

After using the festive period to recharge the batteries and enjoy a Guinness or two with family and friends, Lowry will start his 2023 campaign by being part of the Great Britain and Ireland team for the new Hero Cup, which takes place in Abu Dhabi on 13-15 January.

“The way the PGA Tour schedule is, I must admit I was kind of mixed about it, but I really wanted to play as I was one of the players after the last Ryder Cup (Lowry made his debut in Europe’s heavy defeat at Whistling Straits in 2021) who spoke to the DP World Tour and said, ‘look, I really feel we need something like this again’,” said the Irishman, who will have both Ewen Ferguson and Bob MacIntyre among his team-mates in a side being captained by Tommy Fleetwood against a Continental Europe line up with Francesco Molinari at the helm.

“I feel the Americans have natural pairings and they are building that camaraderie and I feel we need that. We are obviously missing the likes of Rory, Jon and Fitzy, but I feel the rest of us who are playing in it will get a lot of benefit out of it.

“By playing in it myself, I hope I can give benefit to some of the younger lads and some of the rookies who might make the team next September. I played the EurAsia Cup and just being in that environment is a help.

“I know it’s nowhere near the same league as the Ryder Cup, but it is nice to be involved in something like that. If we get a couple of pairings out of it for Rome next year, then it will be a worthwhile exercise.”

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