Having rediscovered his very best form in recent weeks, Shane Lowry (pictured by Getty Images) has now set his sights on becoming only the third Irishman to win his national Open on more than one occasion.
Lowry turned his season around with a runner-up finish behind fellow Irishman Rory McIlroy in last month’s BMW PGA Championship, a performance which filled the Clara native with confidence ahead of his bid to emulate the feats of his compatriots Christy O’Connor Snr and Harry Bradshaw.
O’Connor Snr won the Irish Open four times and Bradshaw twice, but no Irishman has achieved the feat since the tournament joined The European Tour International Schedule in 1975.
Five years on from his amateur dramatics at Baltray, Lowry will go in search of a second victory in the €2million event.
He said: “I generally don’t like to talk about wining, but I do feel I’m coming here this week to really contend. Someone might shoot a better score than me to pip me and at the end of the day there’s not a lot you can do about that, but I come here with that winning mentality. I really feel like my game is where I want it to be at the minute, and I’m really excited about the next four days.”
Lowry’s excitement is not just caused by his improved performances of late, but also due to the crowds which are expected to pour through the gates at Fota Island Resort, in Ireland’s second city of Cork.
When the tournament was staged at Portrush in 2012, it became the first sold-out event in European Tour history; and with extended periods of sunshine forecast for the majority of week, Lowry is confident that the Irish golfing public will again show their support.
He said: “I believe the last time it was played here in 2002, there were around 35,000 people here on the Saturday and I’d say we are expecting pretty similar crowds again, which should make for a great week. The golf course is lovely, and with the weather forecast we have, it’s going to be a fantastic.
“I’m playing on a golf course that I know quite well, in front of my friends and family. I mean, where else do you want to be in the world? There’s no place I’d rather be this week than playing here.”
Source: European Tour