Sneak Peek: This article will appear in the Sept. 30 issue of Global Golf Post.
ST. ANDREWS, SCOTLAND | To have so cheery an Irishman as Shane Lowry as the Open champion has to be good for the game. For instance, where some will win a first major and move on, almost unthinkingly, to what needs to happen next, he is still savouring everything to do with his week at Royal Portrush.
When, at this week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, he was asked to name a few areas where his life had changed since he lifted the Claret Jug, he struggled to come up with anything. Eventually, he mentioned how he was kept busy in the days before a tournament where he used to be able “to do my own thing,” though he was quick to point out that he was not complaining: “Hey, it’s all positive.”
Nothing has changed about the man himself. As Thomas Bjørn, the 2018 Ryder Cup captain, said later that day, “Shane was the same after he won the Open as he was before, and he’ll still be the same if he wins 10 majors.
“And here’s another thing,” called the Dane. “I like the way he celebrated after he won. Too many don’t.”
Though Lowry fancied the idea of bracketing his Open victory with a win in the Race to Dubai, he insisted that whatever happens or doesn’t happen over the rest of the year, nothing is going to take away from his Christmas plans. What he has in mind is to sit with his feet up and take a long and leisurely look back at his Open week.
Beyond Christmas, the only event he mentioned was an evening in 2021.
Here, he explained how, when he arrived in St Andrews last Monday, he had noticed a picture in his apartment of the 2010 Champions’ Dinner, an event which takes place in the R&A clubhouse every year the Open is held in the town: “I’m looking forward to it even now,” he said, before adding, in typical Shane style, that he had been thinking of the great players who would be there – and wondering what would be on the menu.
How his peers enjoy his easy manner, as do the press. The latter will often worry that by the time the main players have completed a handful of TV interviews, they will be sounding like robots by the time they arrive in front of the writers. Lowry, though, gives the impression of enjoying the entire rigmarole.
When, for instance, the European Tour wanted him to record a video message last Tuesday for those of his compatriots playing in a Challenge Tour event in Ireland, he gave a bemused look as he scanned the six-or-so-line script and said that it might need a few takes.
With the opening line supposed to read, “I would like to wish …” Lowry began at his first attempt with the words, “I would like to win.” On realising what he had done, he wheeled round in the manner of one who has just hit a laughably bad shot.
The second attempt, it has to be said, was 100 percent.
Lowry may have celebrated after Royal Portrush but he had no plans to drink anything beyond a Coke on his visits to St Andrews’ famous Jigger Inn last week. He and his longtime amateur partner, Gerry McManus, brother of JP McManus of horse-racing fame, have always ended up in that little hostelry at the end of a Dunhill day.
Lowry does not plan to buy himself a home in America, where he plays so much of his golf, the reason being that he and his wife, Wendy, have plans for their daughter, Iris, to start school in Ireland when she turns 5.
Going on from there, he was not remotely worried about the potential for six-hour rounds and suggested that those professionals who liked to complain about such things would do better to stay away. If inadvertently, he then proceeded to prompt thoughts of how slow play could become a whole lot more acceptable if the powers that be fail in their mission to find a cure. Namely, by making delighted mention of the “tea stations,” which were sited at four-hole intervals on all three of the Dunhill courses – the Old Course, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie.
Lowry does not plan to buy himself a home in America, where he plays so much of his golf, the reason being that he and his wife, Wendy, have plans for their daughter, Iris, to start school in Ireland when she turns 5. Yet he will still have enough time amongst his US sorties to enjoy days in Jupiter, Fla., at The Bear’s Club, where he was recently installed as a member.
“It’s so incredibly cool. … You might see Jack Nicklaus at lunch, and then you might meet Rory (McIlroy) for a few holes, Dustin (Johnson) is apt to rock up – and Gary Player could be on the putting ground. … ”
Yet Lowry’s feel for St Andrews is something else again. Last week, he was thinking of his love of the links as more of a two-way affair than it had ever been, what with his Claret Jug on show, and the British Golf Museum – it sits over the road from the clubhouse – waiting for him to hand over one of the clubs he used at the Open.
He had chosen a lob wedge in that lob wedges are ten a penny in his household and he never becomes hopelessly attached to them. However, the one which had got the nod had stood out for delivering a fine shot to within 10 feet of the hole at the 15th in his final round.
He was five strokes ahead at the time but, with the ensuing birdie making it six, the scene was set for nothing other than a sea of smiling Irish eyes for the rest of the journey.
Feet up at Christmas and drink in hand, he will picture them all again.
Top photo: Open champion Shane Lowry. Photo: Patrick Bolger, R&A via Getty Images
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