Shane Lowry has admitted he initially struggled with playing under the pressure of being the defending Open champion at Royal St George’s but now he has embraced the role.
The Offaly man, who cruised to victory at Royal Portrush in 2019, started bogey-bogey in Thursday’s opening round and eventually signed for a middle-of-the-pack one-over 71.
But Lowry went out and performed much better in yesterday’s second round, carding six birdies on his way to a five-under 65 to head into the weekend at four under, seven back of leader and playing partner Louis Oosthuizen.
“Early on yesterday, the first couple of holes I probably struggled a little bit. I was quite nervy,” conceded the Irishman.
“But it’s been something I’ve really enjoyed actually, I’ve really enjoyed the week. I’ve got another two days of being announced (as champion) on the first day, which is great.
“I think I’m in a good position, so hopefully I can go out tomorrow and shoot a decent score and put myself in an even better position on Sunday. Royal St George’s, no matter the conditions, is a tough course so you never know what could happen.”
The three-ball of Lowry, Oosthuizen and US Open champion Jon Rahm was undoubtedly the best on the course yesterday, with their combined score totalling 16 under as Lowry and Oosthuizen both shot 65, with Rahm one better at 64.
“When you play with a group where everybody’s playing well, it forces the guy at the bottom to play well and he makes a few birdies,” revealed Lowry.
“We did that today, the three of us played great. 16-under for a three-ball around Royal St George’s is fantastic, I don’t think there’s going to be many that beat that. It was just a great day all round.”