Shane Lowry talks to Alex Perry about being just one of three European Tour amateur champions, what it was like to be within a whisker of winning a major, and which player he calls 'God'
Did you have any idea at the time of your Irish Open win just how difficult it was to win a tour event – particularly your home Open and as an amateur?
No. I’ve said I don’t know how many times to people that I can’t believe I did it as an amateur. If someone said to me there’s this Irish kid who’s going to play in the Irish Open as an amateur and win, I’d laugh at you. But I don’t think I realised at the time, which is obviously a good thing, and probably the reason I won.
Are you surprised there haven’t been more amateur winners on tour?
I’m not surprised because it’s just so hard to win out here. If you get yourself in contention 10 times a year it’s a good season and you could be unfortunate and not win any of those. It’s a tough school out here and I think some amateurs don’t realise that when they turn pro and they get a rude awakening.
How does Shane Lowry now compare to Shane Lowry 10 years ago?
Well I’m definitely a better player. Over the last couple of years I’ve been underachieving a little bit, but it’s a funny game and you never know what’s around the corner. I’m longer, I’m a much better striker of the ball, and, funny thing, my chipping is probably not as good as a result of being a better ball striker.
What’s it like now going over to the US as a PGA Tour winner?
Obviously as a European going over to play on the PGA Tour and to win over there is huge. A few people said that to me, a few decent names that haven’t actually managed to win on the PGA Tour have said to me that I’m not lucky, but I’ll always be able to go back to America as a winner and a winner of a World Golf Championship. People have a bit more respect for you than they did if you haven’t won.
How do you reflect on the missed opportunity at the 2016 US Open?
It was a great experience. It was one of those days where you learn a lot from it at the time. It was tough to take for a few weeks after – but some of the best players in the world have led majors and not managed to finish them off, so there is no reason I 100% should have won.
Obviously I feel I should have won myself, and I didn’t realise how close I was until after it was done. Looking back on it I was tied for the lead with five holes to play. That was the hardest thing, to let it slip from there. But, look, it was one of those. It was a great experience and, like people say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It’s made me a stronger person.
What if you could get one mulligan from that day?
I had a wedge shot from the 14th fairway and made bogey so I’d love to be able to go back and have that again. I’d love to go back there knowing what I know now – and I’d have probably won the tournament.
If you finish your career without a major, will you look back and consider it a success?
That’s a very tough question. Lee Westwood would probably give up a lot of what he’s won to win a major. I don’t like talking about anyone in particular, but there are guys out there who have won majors and it’s the best day of your life, the world is your oyster, you’ve got your whole career ahead of you and it doesn’t turn out like that. I’d hate to be like that.
I just want to keep going about my business and playing the game I love and competing at the highest level. If I keep going into my mid to late 40s I’ll be very happy. I can retire then and look after my family, that’s all I really want.
If I could give you the choice to win one major, what would it be?
The Masters. I’d love to be the first Irish player to pull on the Green Jacket. That would be special and I’d go down in Irish golfing history.
The Ryder Cup is being widely tipped to be headed to Adare Manor in 2026. What would it mean to you, as an Irishman, to play in a Ryder Cup in Ireland?
I think it should go to Adare. It would be great there. And if it does hopefully we’ll have the possibility of an Irish captain – G-Mac might be at the age where he’s looking at being the captain.
But first and foremost I want to play in the Ryder Cup – I don’t care where it is – but to be able to play in Ireland would be unbelievable.
What’s your experience with the Ryder Cup to date?
I was there at The K Club on the Friday as a fan. I was on the 1st tee when Darren Clarke and Westwood came on and everything that was going on. I remember a lot of it. After the 1st tee, you run to the 4th hole to try and get a spot there. It was a great day. The one shot I always remember is Paul Casey making eagle on the 4th right in front of us. It was great to be there.
And finally, if you could have one hour with any player just talking to them about anything golf related – who would you choose and why?
Tiger. Tiger is God when it comes to golf. People can argue about Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer all they want but it’s Tiger. I grew up in the era of Tiger when I started playing golf in the late 1990s and early 2000s and I used to sit in every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday to watch Tiger Woods. Hopefully someday I get to play with him and hang out with him.
And beat him?
And beat him.
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Shane Lowry was speaking to NCG on behalf of Cleveland/Srixon.