Ireland’s latest golfing star Shane Lowry has shown his support for the European Challenge Tour by playing in the Challenge of Ireland presented by Moyvalley Pro-Am.
With The European Tour International Schedule taking a one-week break due to the Austrian Golf Open being moved back to September, Lowry has taken the opportunity to sharpen his game at the majestic Moyvalley Hotel and Golf Resort, a joint collaboration between European Golf Design and Ireland’s Darren Clarke.
Before his recent decision to join the professional ranks Lowry played amateur golf with a number of the young Irish professionals competing this week, including the Northern Irish duo of Jonathan Caldwell and Gareth Shaw, who hailed his compatriot’s thrilling triumph at The 3 Irish Open as “an unbelievable achievement” which gave Irish golf “another huge lift”.
Lowry said: “Everything’s happened so fast since my win, so this week is a good chance to relax and take stock. I think it’s important to support golf events in Ireland, so when I was invited to play in the Pro-Am for the Challenge of Ireland I jumped at the chance – particularly as it’s in my local area. I’m good friends with guys like Gareth Shaw and Jonny Caldwell from my amateur days, so it’ll be good to catch up with them. Moyvalley is a super course, so the players should be in for a great week, particularly if the weather holds up.
“From my own point of view, I was fairly pleased with how I played at Sunningdale on Monday for the Open qualifying, so I’m moving in the right direction. This week gives me the chance to work on a few things, and I’d rather do that here at Moyvalley than on the practice range. I’ve played on the course a few times, so I’m really looking forward to getting out there again.”
Following his dramatic play-off victory over England’s Robert Rock at County Louth Golf Club last month, Lowry gained a two-year exemption on The European Tour, meaning he bypassed the traditional route taken by some of his compatriots who earned their cards through the Challenge Tour.
They include Gareth Maybin, who won the inaugural Qingdao Open en route to finishing fourth in the Rankings last year, since when he has secured three top ten finishes in his maiden European Tour campaign, including runner-up in the South African Open Championship.
The €115,000 he earned that day has helped Maybin to 57th in The Race to Dubai, and all but secured him his card for next year.
Similarly, former Challenge Tour Member Michael Hoey is already guaranteed a place in The 2010 Race to Dubai, having secured his maiden European Tour title in the Estoril Open de Portugal.
Those hoping to follow in the footsteps of Hoey and Maybin include Challenge Tour champions Michael McGeady and Colm Moriarty, and Simon Thornton, currently the highest-ranked Irish player in 36th place.