Neil Tappin looks at the career of Shane Lowry leading to this point. The question is: Shane Lowry - a natural talent destined for greatness?
When talking about the great natural talents to emerge from the Emerald Isle, the name of Rory McIlroy automatically springs to mind. However, watching this week at The Open has been a timely reminder of another Irishman, Shane Lowry: a natural talent destined for greatness?
In an interview with Golf Monthly soon after he became just the third amateur to win on the European Tour (he captured the 2009 Irish Open), he said, “I had no real coaching a kid so I’m quite natural.”
For those close to the game, this natural ability has been most evident in his short game. He has a freedom and fluidity with a wedge in hand that is outstanding, even among the world’s great players. His ability in this department can be traced back to those formative years as a kid practising at his home club.
“I grew up playing golf on a course called Esker Hills, it’s in the middle of Ireland and it’s not that well known,” he told Golf Monthly in 2015. “I think the reason my short game is quite good is that all the greens there are raised. I used to play a lot of golf on my own and I’d practice my chipping a lot. You’d always have to chip it up with a little bit of spin to get the ball close. I was never taught how to play them but I chipped and I chipped and I chipped and over time I developed it.”
But Shane Lowry is far more than just a short game wizard. His full swing has that same languid, free-flowing style and over recent years he has added some significant extra length to his long game. In 2010 he averaged 289 yards off the tee and now he is almost 10 yards longer.
What’s more, in his decade as a professional, Lowry has learnt some valuable lessons in the art managing his game.
“Playing professional golf week-in, week-out you learn a lot,” he explained. “You learn to be more consistent, you learn to be clever. You learn to aim away from flags and that’s actually quite difficult for me, to take pars and bogeys when you’re out of position. Professional golf is all about just ticking along and taking your birdies when you can. If you can make four or five birdies a day and try and limit your mistakes you’re going to be up there at the end of the week.”
The truth is, you don’t win on tour as a 22 year-old amateur if you aren’t incredibly gifted. Older, wiser and frankly, better, Shane Lowry is now perfectly positioned to truly fulfil that early promise this weekend at Royal Portrush. With the Irish fans behind him all the way, the Claret Jug, it seems, is there for the taking.