Lowry to play role of people’s champion

Shane Lowry is prepared to take one for the team this week as he gears up for what is potentially the biggest summer of his career.

Lowry to play role of people’s champion

As the touring professional for Carton House, where he has also set up home overlooking the O’Meara Course that could well host the event next year, the 2009 Irish Open champion is bracing himself for a busy week.

“I will give everyone what they want,” the world No 86 said yesterday. “After all, it is just one week a year. When I get inside the ropes on Thursday, that will be my peace and quiet for the week.”

Lowry knows it will be tough to contend given the massive pressure to perform and the constant demands on his time.

But having lived through a similar experience when he defended the title at Killarney in 2010, he believes he is ready and able to do both.

“I’ve been through it before,” he said. “It is just one of those weeks. There are going to be big crowds and I am going to be in demand. But that’s a good thing. I could be at the bottom of the pile or not even playing.

“I am going to spend time with anyone who comes up to see me and stay and sign stuff and talk to people as long as I can and give them what they want to see as well.”

The 26-year old Clara man has been globetrotting this year, playing six times in the US in an effort to secure his playing privileges on the world’s biggest tour.

His first outing was a

resounding success as he beat Rory McIlroy in the first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play in Tucson before falling to stablemate Graeme McDowell in the third round.

And while his other outings were less than successful — he missed the cut on sponsor’s invitations in Puerto Rico, Houston, New Orleans and the Memorial in Ohio — he was 15th in the Valero Texas Open and knows that he has the game to triumph in the US.

“You don’t get away with much and the standard is a little bit better,” he said. “But I did learn loads. If I try to put my finger on it, I can’t, but it is something that if I ever go back there in the future, it will definitely stand to me.”

He will also be hoping that his experiences stand to him over the next two months as he follows the Irish Open with appearances in the four huge events — the Scottish Open, the British Open at Muirfield, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone and the US PGA at Oak Hill Country Club in upstate New York.

“It is a great schedule,” he said. “It’s a top 50 in the world schedule even though I am not top 50 in the world. But if I can play well for the next couple of months... things will be good.”

Lowry has no regrets about his early season globetrotting and believes he’s ready to rediscover the form that saw him win his second European Tour title in Portugal last year.

“It is coming along,” he said, reflecting on Sunday’s closing 65 for 21st place in the BMW International Open in Munich. “Last week it was close to being really, really good.

“It was the easiest 65 I have ever shot. Very stress free and it gives me a lot of confidence going into this week. It’s all I needed.

“All I wanted going out [on Sunday] morning was to try and shoot a decent number and try and hit some good shots to give myself a bit of confidence.”

Barring some later withdrawals, the 156-man field has been finalised, with Irish Major winners Rory McIlroy, McDowell, Pádraig Harrington and Darren Clarke heading a list that features five of the world’s top 50 with the addition of Francesco Molinari, Paul Lawrie and defending champion Jamie Donaldson.

The eight sponsors’ invitations have also been handed out, with Waterville’s Mark Murphy and former runner-up Peter Hedblom of Sweden added to the mix yesterday alongside West Waterford’s Seamus Power, Antrim’s Alan Dunbar, Armagh’s Gareth Shaw, Welshman Rhys Davies, American Tyler McCumber (son of Kevin Phelan’s coach Mark) and Meath’s Damien McGrane.

McGrane’s inclusion has raised some eyebrows as it came as a result of his failure to enter the event before the deadline.

Given his obvious embarrassment, the Kells man had no desire to speak publicly about the matter yesterday, no doubt aware that he has potentially denied a young Irish professional a place in the field.

Rookie South African Brandon Stone, who was originally included on the list of invitees, freed up a spot for 2003 runner-up Hedblom due to his 10th place finish on his European Tour debut last Sunday.

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