'I am a big boy. I am well able to look after myself' - Shane Lowry won't be distracted by LIV controversy

Talking point

Shane Lowry plays a second shot on the 12th hole during a practice round prior to the 122nd US Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty

Shane Lowry's bid for a second Major title begins today at the US Open in Brookline

Brian Keogh

The history of golf is teeming with great quotes on the role of fate in the game.

“I’m going to leave y’all with one thought,” Ben Crenshaw said on the eve of that monumental American Ryder Cup singles comeback here at the Country Club of Brookline in 1999. “I’m a big believer in fate. I have a good feeling about this.”

What fate has in store for Ireland’s trio of contenders remains to be seen, but they could not choose a more fitting scenario than one of the five charter clubs that founded the USGA to make history.

Rory McIlroy is the favourite, not just for last week’s spectacular Canadian Open win but also because he’s become the poster boy for the anti-LIV movement.

His near eight-year dry spell in the Majors remains one of the game’s more fascinating storylines and ending that drought this week with a second US Open win and a fifth Major victory would confirm his status as one of the modern greats.

Boy’s Own stories like McIlroy’s are few and far between.

But those of West Waterford’s world number 41 Séamus Power, ranked 437th in the world just 13 months ago, or Shane Lowry’s emergence from a GAA heartland to become Open champion are not too shabby either.

Lowry is many people’s pick for glory this week, but the Clara man is remarkably practical about his task this week and shamelessly unperturbed by those worried about his draw alongside LIV Golf rebels Phil Mickelson and Louis Oosthuizen.

In truth, he has been too busy getting to know this old-fashioned and utterly stunning course, where myriad blind shots, brownish fairways and small, treacherous greens have had him on high alert since Monday.

The Mickelson drama? The history? LIV Golf? Lowry has other things on his mind.

“It’s a pretty cool place to be fair, it is really nice here,” he said. “But I am more interested in getting to know the place than in the actual history of it. It is a golf course you need to know; there’s a lot of tee shots, definitely five to eight blind tee shots, it is going to be a bit funky, but it is a great course.”

He wants to have something to show for the most consistent run of form of his career and knows what he has to do.

“Patience is everything in this game and I just need to be patient the next few months and if I am, I am hoping that the golf gods will pay me back, hopefully in a big way in a week like this or in St Andrews in a few weeks. If not, it will pay me back in some way possible, I suppose,” he said.

“The last time I played with Phil (Mickelson) in the first two rounds of a Major was Royal Portrush in 2019, so hopefully that has some sort of an omen about it.”

Having led the US Open by four shots with a round to go in 2016, he knows he can win. Not only is he a better player (and putter) now, but he’s also become a Major champion.

As for the possibility of some distraction due to his draw with Mickelson, he’s not about to start making excuses.

“Obviously, regardless of whether Phil had joined LIV the past few weeks or not, playing with him here this week in Boston is going to be pretty wild because the crowds are going to be loud,” he said.

“I could make an excuse and say it is going to be a distraction, but it is not; I am a big boy. I am well able to look after myself.

“I go out there in one of the marquee groups this week and there is nothing I can do about who I am playing with, I just need to look after myself,” added Lowry.

As for a sales pitch for LIV Golf from his playing partners, he quipped: “I wouldn’t say they’d want a guy like me playing against them every week …”

Admitting he’s doubled his efforts to improve his putting over the past year, Lowry’s big concern is the blindness of a course that reminds him of Pebble Beach with a links look.

For all its challenges, it excites rather than intimidates him.

“It is going to be mental, physical, everything this week and that’s why I’m excited,” he said, adding his new-found maturity has helped him become more patient.

“I think I accept the bad shots better these days; I think I am just more mature,” he ventured when asked about the key to his consistency. “And I am putting better ... Patience is huge. I am here and if it doesn’t happen, so be it. I go home and I have the Irish Open and The Open in the next few weeks which are pretty big weeks for me. Everything is exciting and the next few weeks and few months are going to be exciting.”

As for Power, who tied for eighth but might have won the US PGA on his debut, he’s excited for his US Open bow.

“This is where I always dreamed of playing,” Power said. “This is where you want to be. I think last year I was probably getting ready to go to a Monday qualifier at the Travelers, so totally different this year. I am really enjoying it. It’s going to be a good challenge this week and I am looking forward to it.”


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