Shane Lowry is hoping to put his local knowledge to good use this week as he returns home to Carton House for the Irish Open.
Lowry won this event in 2009 as an amateur at County Louth Golf Club, Baltray after overcoming Engand’s Robert Rock in a play-off, and has since added his maiden professional triumph at the Portugal Masters last October.
The Irishman has also made Carton House his home, and plays the course regularly when he is not travelling. Coming off a strong showing at the BMW International Open last week, when he shot a closing round of 65 to finish in a tie for 22nd, Lowry is clearly confident of a strong display this week.
“It’s definitely a huge, huge week for me and I’ve been looking forward to it ever since it was announced that the tournament was going to be here last year,” admitted Lowry. “I live here, play this golf course every week when I’m home, and I’m therefore really looking forward to it and hopefully I can have a good weekend.
“The golf was going well last week after opening up with two easy rounds of 69, it felt easy, and then it felt like my arms had been chopped off and I played poorly on Saturday. All I wanted to do on Sunday morning was go out and shoot a decent score and get some confidence for this week, and I managed to shoot a very easy bogey-free 65, which was nice and gives me a lot of confidence going into this week.
“Hopefully I can give myself a chance to win this week, as I definitely know that if I give myself a chance on the back nine on Sunday then I can pull it off and that’s just the confidence I’ll need this weekend.”
Given that he is in form and playing in his national Open, Lowry could be forgiven for feeling under pressure. But the Irishman sees it purely as a positive, and cannot wait to get going on Thursday.
He said: “It might look like there should be more pressure on me, but I think it is an advantage if anything as I play this golf course week in, week out and I know it like the back of my hand. I’ve always said that was the main reason I won in Baltray, because I knew the golf course so well.
“I’m definitely looking forward to it, I’m excited about it, I can’t wait and I’m looking forward to having all my friends and family up to watch me as well. So if you ask me if that is added pressure then I don’t think so, that pressure is more of a privilege really.
“Portrush last year was brilliant, the crowds were amazing, the golf course was great, but I think we’re going to have just as good a week this week as the weather is going to be quite nice. So the crowds are going to come out and watch us, and hopefully if we get an Irish challenger over the weekend then we can get an extra couple of thousand people in the gates. So it should be good.”
Thus, all the evidence points to Lowry having a strong week at Carton House, but he knows he will be hard pushed to finish as top Irishman if the likes of Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley play their best.
“Top Irishman is tough these kinds of weeks,” said Lowry. “We have some of the best players in the world, and I think if you’re top Irishman this week then you won’t be too far off the top of the leaderboard.”