Offaly’s Shane Lowry will make his much-anticipated homecoming this week at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Lahinch Golf Club, Co. Clare, ten years on from his victory as an amateur in the tournament at Baltray that ultimately kick-started his professional golf career.
When Lowry claimed the Irish Open in 2009, he sank the winning putt on the third extra play-off hole to claim the title in dramatic fashion over Robert Rock, and now the Clara native comes to the west coast of Ireland with form on his side.
In January, the 32-year-old won his first European Tour title in three and a half years in the first Rolex Series event of 2019, the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. As late as May, he tied eighth at the US PGA Championship, showing that he is a player in form.
When asked if he felt victory in this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open would be better than his success of 10 years ago, Lowry admitted:
“I don’t know if it will top 2009. I don’t want to even start thinking about winning the Irish Open again. I just kind of try not to think about it because I can then play the Irish Open every year and do my best. I’m currently only 32 now. Hopefully I’ve got 15 or 20 Irish Opens in me and hopefully, I’ll have a few chances along the years. And hopefully one of them is this week. If I do get a chance, I’ll be giving my best to take up all hands and see from there.”
Tournament host and former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley is overseeing this week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. He has, by his own admission, attempted to give the players the ideal preparation for the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush in a fortnight:
“Obviously we’re not copying exactly everything because of the different designs of the holes. But we have information on the greens speeds and we have information on the rough heights, the fairway widths, the run-off areas. The players who come here will feel really well prepared to win a Major championship in a few weeks’ time. That’s the plan.”
The four-time European Tour winner is happy with how those plans have been executed so far and is thrilled with the impressive ticket sales, stating:
“We’re well on our way to having sell-out crowds for the weekend which is unbelievable really considering the Open is also going to be on here in a few weeks’ time in this country of ours. We can sell out, hopefully, two golf tournaments in the space of three weeks.”