Shane Lowry, who has for the first time in his career been based in the Unites States for the first half of this season, hopes to add to his trophy cabinet by claiming the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation at Ballyliffin Golf Club this week.
He notched up a top 15 finish in his opening Rolex Series appearance of the campaign at the BMW PGA Championship, but as a links expert who has already won on home soil, he will no doubt be chomping at the bit to take on the stunning Glashedy Course on the northwest coast of Ireland.
The vociferous home crowds will be cheering the popular Offaly player all the way, Lowry having provided one of the most memorable moments in the 91-year history of the event in 2009 with a dramatic victory as an amateur.
“I think Ballyliffin will be a brilliant venue for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open,” said the three-time European Tour winner. “I have a lot of fond memories of playing Interprovincial Championships there so it will be great to go back there. It’s one of those weeks on Tour that you have to adapt to. For most of the Irish lads, you need to treat it like a massive event because you have so much on so you actually need to prepare differently to most other weeks.”
The Offaly man continued:
“Stuff like doing a lot more media, seeing a lot more friends and family, trying to give as much time to the fans are fantastic problems to have, but you to need to remember to get ready for the tournament! But I don’t think any of us would have it any other way – it’s one of the special weeks on Tour for everyone associated with Irish golf.
“The tournament itself is massive now with it being on the Rolex Series and with such a committed sponsor like Dubai Duty Free. They have, along with Rory obviously, taken it to a new level over the past few years and it’s brilliant to see the tournament getting back to the way it was with huge crowds, great fields and big prize money.”
Lowry, along with his fellow home heroes McIlroy, Darren Clarke, Paul Dunne, Pádraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Paul McGinley, will be joined at Ballyliffin Golf Club by an impressive line-up of international players.
Leading those will be the defending champion and World Number Five Jon Rahm, who will be chasing a third Rolex Series title in the space of ten months, while his Spanish compatriot Rafa Cabrera Bello will be hoping to add a second ahead of his Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open title defence next week.