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Irish Open is the one to win, says Shane Lowry as he slams social media golf gurus

Irishman is determined to lift second Irish Open crown after missing the French Open cut

By Liam Kelly

Former champion Shane Lowry reckons his game is fit for purpose in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Portstewart, and hopes the breaks that make the difference between winning and losing go his way this week.

Lowry, who felt shock and a large dollop of disappointment at missing the cut in the French Open, consoled himself with time at home with daughter Iris and his wife Wendy.

He also put in some intensive hours of practice at Castle Golf Club in Rathfarnham on Saturday and Sunday night, and pronounced himself happy with the fruits of his labour.

Next stop: Portstewart, and yet another opportunity to contend for the Irish Open title he won as an amateur in 2009 at County Louth.

Lowry, like host Rory McIlroy, has never played a competitive round at the Causeway Coast links, but eight years after turning pro, the routine is honed down.

Caddie Dermot Byrne was in situ yesterday, measuring the links and assessing the challenge facing his boss, while Lowry had a sponsorship engagement with new backers Immedis.

Today the Clara native travels to the Irish Open venue, where he will carry out some more corporate and media duties before playing nine holes.

Tomorrow, Lowry gets 18 holes in the Pro-Am and then it's all systems go on Thursday in round one, with one aim - winning the tournament.

Easier said than done, and over the years Lowry has needed to temper the fire in his belly with mental relaxation - a combination that is notoriously difficult to achieve for a golfer of any level.

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Lowry has won a WGC event - the 2015 Bridgestone Invitational - and the Portugal Masters. He has finished second in the US Open, and barring a Major, a win in his home championship as a professional remains a career ambition.

"The Irish Open is the one you want to win," he said. "I've been lucky enough to win it as an amateur but I'd love to win it again as a pro. To be able to put another trophy beside the one I won in 2009 would be great.

"Would I be putting too much pressure on myself? I don't think so. I think I'm in a great place at the minute, both on and off the course. I feel like my game is good, and I feel like I'm happy. Even with a bad week last week, I didn't get too upset about it.

"Normally I'd be going around feeling like it's the end of the world, but it was just one of those where I accepted it and I move on."

Lowry has sports psychologist Gerry Hussey on his team this year. The mind game has to be nurtured on and off the course, including the pros and cons of having 129,000 Twitter followers. Lowry admitted he briefly thought about opting out of social media due to unwanted 'advice' from wannabe golf gurus.

"I've actually contemplated deleting it at times over the last few months," he said. "I like it, but there's a lot of geniuses out there, telling you what you should and shouldn't be doing.

"Even over the last week I've had private messages on Twitter telling me what I should do, people telling me I should work harder.

"Who has a camera on me when I'm at home? I have been in the golf club until dark the last two nights. Who has the right to tell me what to do apart from my family or my friends, or my coach?

"But people do that. That's social media. Unfortunately that's the era we live in. I laugh it off. It doesn't bother me."

Clearly the odd jibe does hit home, but apart from his desire to engage with fellow golfers, fans and friends, Lowry appreciates the commercial value of online connections.

"I am lucky enough to have a few sponsors, and they are good sponsors. They need it, and we use social media to promote, so it is helpful to me," he said. "There are genuine people that follow you and want to know you and what you are like. And I like sitting back watching a match and tweeting about it."

Anyone who doubts Lowry's desire and commitment should ponder his views on golfing happiness, which could be summed up in one word: winning.

"If someone said to me, 'I'll give you second this week', you'd find it hard not to take it. But if you stand on the 18th green next Sunday after finishing second, you'd probably be the most disappointed after finishing second.

"You just have to ride out the bad times and enjoy the successes when you can."

Belfast Telegraph


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