Cape Town - Shane Lowry will make his much-anticipated homecoming this
week at the Irish Open, the second Rolex Series event of the
season at Lahinch Golf Club, ten years on from his famous victory as an amateur
which kickstarted his professional career.
The popular Offaly player won his national open at Baltray
in 2009 when he sank the winning putt on the third extra play-off hole to claim
the title in dramatic fashion over Robert Rock, and now returns to the famous
Wild Atlantic Way coast of Ireland with form once again on his side.
"I don't know if it will top 2009. I don't want to even start
thinking about winning the Irish Open again. I just kind of try not to
think about it because I can then play the Irish Open every year and do
my best," said Lowry.
"I'm currently only 32 now. Hopefully
I've got 15 or 20 Irish Opens in me and hopefully, I'll have a few
chances along the years. And hopefully one of them is this week. If I do
get a chance, I'll be giving my best to take up all hands and see from
Earlier this season, the 32-year-old claimed his first
European Tour title in three and a half years in the maiden Rolex Series event
of 2019, the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January, and more
recently finished tied eighth at the PGA Championship in May.
Meanwhile, defending champion Russell Knox hopes his return
to the event, this time on the famous County Clare links, can give him a first
win of 2019.
"It was a crazy ending to the tournament that fortunately I was on the good end of. To hole a par in the last hole to eventually make the play-off is obviously an Irish Open I'll never forget and to somehow walk it again is obviously a dream come true," said Knox.
"I think every aspect of my game feels very good. And I've been driving well. I think recently I've been putting great for the last month or two. There's been no really glaring weakness. Just try to put it all together for four days."
The Scot added his name to the illustrious list of
champions at Ballyliffin Golf Club in thrilling fashion 12 months ago, holing a
45-foot birdie putt to force a play-off before sinking another similar-length
effort on the first extra hole to beat New Zealand's Ryan Fox.
Tournament host Paul McGinley is overseeing this week's
event and has attempted to give the players the ideal preparation for the 148th
Open Championship at Royal Portrush in two weeks.
"I'm a great believer in preparation and with The Open Championship in Northern Ireland in Portrush in a couple of weeks time, straightaway I always wanted to have a similar setup here," said McGinley.
The four-time European Tour winner, and Ryder Cup winning captain, is happy with how those plans have been executed so far and is also
thrilled with the impressive ticket sales, with only limited tickets remaining
for Saturday and Sunday.
"We're well on our way to having sell-out crowds for the weekend which is unbelievable really considering the Open is also going to be on here in a few weeks' time in this country of ours. We can sell out, hopefully, two golf tournaments in the space of three weeks."