Shane fires Rory warning shot and aims to take desert by storm

Shane Lowry hopes to take advantage of the massive pressure on Rory McIlroy’s shoulders by dumping his pal out of next week’s $8.75m WGC-Accenture Match Play in Arizona.

While he could end up facing world No 2 Tiger Woods in the first round if there is a withdrawal from the 64-man field before Friday’s deadline, the Offaly star knows McIlroy’s staggered start to his estimated $250m Nike deal could play into his hands in Tucson.

“Rory is going to have a lot of pressure on him with the whole Nike thing after what happened in Abu Dhabi,” Lowry said in reference to McIlroy’s missed cut on his debut with Nike clubs three weeks ago.

“But Rory is Rory and he is not the best golfer in the world for nothing so it’s going to be a very tough match. He is going to be coming out with all guns blazing next week trying to prove everyone wrong, but I will have nothing to lose.

“I’m not saying I’d have a better chance of beating Rory (than Tiger) but I would be more comfortable. It’s going to be good craic and I’m really looking forward to it.”

“I will just have to take it one match at a time and hopefully I can cause a big upset in the first round and you never know what can happen after that. I can’t wait,” he said.

Whoever he ends up facing, Lowry knows he can’t afford to play average golf, recalling how Graeme McDowell got dumped out in the first round last year despite making a hatful of birdies. “I think Graeme was six or seven under in the first round last year and was home in Orlando at 4 o’clock on Wednesday evening,” Lowry said.

“All I can do is go out and try and make as many birdies as I can without throwing away holes, which is huge against players like Rory or Tiger. If I end up playing Tiger, obviously it is going to be quite intimidating so I have to try to get a game plan in place and get my frame of mind right.”

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