Lowry revels in Portugal win

The Algarve has hosted many a rousing Irish party over the years but little could match the celebrations in Vilamoura on Sunday night to mark Shane Lowry’s victory in the Portugal Masters.

Lowry revels in Portugal win

The new champion wasn’t feeling the best when he climbed out of the bed yesterday morning — “This is the best hangover I’ve ever had,” he declared on Twitter — but he was far from complaining.

He hasn’t experienced victory since his dramatic Irish Open win in Baltray in 2009, so last Sunday’s win is another that will live with him.

“I was very proud of the way I handled myself on the back nine because I was very nervous out there and to stand on the 18th green with the trophy was a little bit surreal,” he said.

“I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t nervous. I just trusted myself and trusted my game.”

Lowry admitted he wasn’t quite sure what to do having finished on 14 under par knowing that Ross Fisher was coming up the 18th needing a birdie to win, a par to tie and bogey or worse to lose. “I needed to get ready for a play-off and was watching from the putting green,” he recalled.

“Obviously, it’s not nice to be wishing for someone to miss a putt but that feeling when that putt lipped out was great. Ross is a friend of mine and a great player who has a few under his belt and I’m sure he’ll be back.

“The crowd was great and my playing partner Richard Finch said to me as we were walking up the 14th that he knew how Robert Rock felt at Baltray in 2009 when I beat him for the Irish Open. When I left my second shot to 15 almost stone dead, the roar was unbelievable. I’m good friends with Finchy as well so it was great to play with him and that was a major help. We were chatting and making jokes.”

And there was every good reason Lowry should feel on top of the world. The win itself was worth €375,000 but it also opened several new and lucrative doors for the 25-year-old native of Clara, Co Offaly.

Having decided against trying for his card on the US PGA Tour, he will now concentrate on three big-money events as a result of his Portugal win.

Next week he takes part in the $7m BMW Masters in Shanghai, and after that he will take in the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament at Mission Hills, Shenzhen, China, on November 1-4 carrying a €5.4m prize fund.

As there is no cut in those events, Lowry is guaranteed a handsome share of the prize fund.

Much the same applies to the €8m DP World Tour Championship, the season-ending tournament on the European Tour, in Dubai. The 60-man showpiece returns to Jumeirah Golf Estates from November 22-25 and Lowry is hoping to round off a superb season by claiming a share of the bonus pool awarded to the top 10 players in The Race to Dubai.

“To move into the top 30 of The Race to Dubai is amazing and it gives me a lot of confidence,” he said. “I managed to finish in the top 10 in last year’s tournament, so the course suits me. It’s a great end to the season.”

Given his natural golf swing and well-rounded short game, there seems no limit to what Lowry can achieve. But there are many who maintain he must control his weight (he stands just over six feet and tips the scales around 17 stone) and attain higher level of fitness to reach the top of the golfing tree. He doesn’t see it that way.

“I’m definitely not the fittest fella ever but can I play four weeks in a row and be all right on the Sunday in the fourth week? Yes I can,” he reasoned.

“That’s why I’m comfortable in myself and don’t want to make any major changes. Just because X, Y and Z are going to the gym 10 times a week doesn’t mean I have to. It’s something that Tiger started and everyone is on the band wagon now.

“I do a little bit. It’s not as if I go home and sit on the couch every evening. But just because a fella does an hour on the treadmill and lifts weights doesn’t mean he can get the ball in the hole from six feet.”

As he looks back on that famous wet and windy day in Baltray, he can hardly believe how much his game has progressed in three and a half years.

“I think my golf is a 100 times better than it was back then,” he claimed. “I feel I have not fulfilled my potential yet and this is a step towards doing so.”

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