Golf From an Irish Perspective

Ireland’s Shane Lowry kick-started his career with a win at the Irish Open in 2009. He’s played the Open every year since, and has had 10 top-10 finishes in the last three years, including a win at the 2015 W.G.C.-Bridgestone Invitational and a runner-up finish at the 2016 United States Open. Lowry, 31, spoke about turning professional, his mental game, and managing two golf tours. This conversation has been edited and condensed.

The 2009 Irish Open was a big moment for you. What do you remember?

That was hugely important. It gave me what I need to make it on tour. I can’t believe this year is my 10th Irish Open. It doesn’t feel that long, but it is. There are so many memories, but that whole week was really kind of a blur.

I was just happy to be there as a young amateur, and it was my first time playing in a professional event. I went about my business and played my golf. All of a sudden, I was 15 under and was leading by two. I grounded it out and somehow managed to win in the playoff.

To win the Irish Open as an amateur will always be something I remember — it’s not something that many people can do.

What are the Irish golf fans like?

The Irish people love to golf and the fans are great. We are very lucky as a nation of golfers in how we get supported both home and abroad. Going to the Irish Open every year is exciting. Going to a new venue at Ballyliffin this year is going to be amazing. Hopefully the crowds will be good, the weather will be great and one of us Irish lads will do well.

You played well and qualified for this year’s United States Open, but you fell short at Shinnecock Hills. What happened?

I played well considering I played the two courses blind. I didn’t know them at all. It was one of those days that I was in a great frame of mind. I’ve qualified for a few U.S. Opens before. It generally doesn’t take as much as you think it will need to qualify. I just holed important putts for pars at certain stages. That was big.

My game as a whole is not bad, but the results don’t reflect that. I feel like I’ve played pretty well. The U.S. Open was certainly not ideal. I’m not going to blame the golf course. It was difficult and tricky and it didn’t take. It was also just really bad golf. I just put that one behind. The rest of the season has been a bit weird. I’ve been making most cuts, but I’ve been finishing down the field or in the middle of the pack. That doesn’t really cut it in the P.G.A. field — that’s not enough. I think if I can sharpen up my short game and my putting a little bit, I can get something going. I just need a few good weeks.

You once said you could compete with the sport’s top players if you could get your mental game under control. Can you explain?

As a golfer — at the level where I’m at — you get maybe five or six weeks a year where you are at your peak, and at your best. You have to take advantage of that when it comes. To peak four or five times a year is quite a difficult thing to do. Tiger Woods was the best at that — peaking for the majors.

I’ve won tournaments, but there are certain times of the year when you are just in a better place mentally. I can’t put my finger on it. If I could, I’d bottle and sell it, and make a lot of money. Golf’s a funny game — some weeks you can be playing great and mentally not there, and end up missing the cut and not doing well. Other weeks, you can be playing pretty average and mentally good, and end up doing a lot better. Golf’s a strange game like that. It can turn the corner at any stage.

Last year, you tried to balance the challenges of playing both the P.G.A. Tour with the European Tour by living in the United States for six months. How did that work out?

We had a great time. My wife loved it, my baby loved it and I loved it. As long as I keep my card there this year, we’ll do it again next year. But a part of me might want to concentrate on just one tour next year. I don’t know what I’m going to do yet. But it was great. We were down in Palm Beach and loving every minute of it. We loved the fact we were living in a nice place with great weather, and I was able to get my practice done. It definitely helped the family and me as a golfer.

How do you manage yourself when you’re alone on tour?

I’m very lucky to do what I do for a living. I love it. There are some sacrifices you have to make. I mean, my family gets to travel with me a little bit. But when I’m my own, I get to hang out with the other golfers and my lads G-Mac and Paddy [Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington]. So that’s not too bad. When things are not going your way, it can be a lonely lifestyle. But when things are going your way, it’s the best job in the world.

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