Lowry wants to avoid pal McIlroy in Match-Play

Shane Lowry may be relaxed about qualifying for next month’s Accenture Match-Play Championship but he doesn’t like the idea of facing good friend and world No 1 Rory McIlroy in an opening round encounter.

Lowry wants to avoid pal McIlroy in Match-Play

Lowry is currently ranked 62nd in the world, with the world’s top 64 as at Monday week qualifying for the €6.45m event. Those players inside the top 64 will be seeded as per their world ranking, with number one facing 64, second against 63 and so on. A top-of-the-board finish in this week’s Omega Desert Classic would not only cement Lowry’s place in the Arizona field but also secure a tee time in the Masters as a member of the top 50 players in the world.

Because that event is so important to him, Lowry is considering skipping next week’s Joburg Open as a missed cut there could see him slip into that dreaded 64th position.

“A good result this week should take care of it and besides, it’s not the end of the world if I don’t qualify for the match-play,” he said. “Also at least at this stage I’m not due to be drawn against Rory!”

After starting his new season with a top 10 finish in Durban, Lowry then went to Abu Dhabi only to join McIlroy in missing the cut. The reigning Portugal Masters champion then spent the week at the Els Club in Dubai under the watchful eye of coach Neil Manchip.

“It was good to finish ninth in Durban as that was a nice surprise but I just struggled on a tough golf course in Abu Dhabi,” said Lowry.

“Then with the way I was feeling I would not have wanted to go to Doha last week.”

Lowry is among six Irishmen in this week’s field, including European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, who has twice finished runner-up.

Peter Lawrie has not missed a Desert Classic since making his debut in 2003 and with his best finish a year later in sharing ninth place.

“You just don’t have to hit the ball as far and you can shape it a little bit more, so in saying that this one should suit my game better,” said Lawrie.

“Overall my game’s good and it was good to play four rounds last week in Qatar as I looked like missing the cut after three [holes] on day two.”

World No 8 Lee Westwood begins his season as the highest ranked player in the field and having played yesterday’s pro-am in the company of rock legend Alice Cooper.

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