Shane Lowry: ‘Cautious aggression’ more virtuous than patience on Old Course

It needed mental strength to survive a gruelling US Open at Chambers Bay but Shane Lowry will need a different approach if he is to get the job done this week at The Open Championship.

Shane Lowry: ‘Cautious aggression’ more virtuous than patience on Old Course

Lowry came of age in America last month, tying for ninth in the US Open as others fell by the wayside, unable to conquer their negativity about the condition of the course and USGA set-up.

Heading into Thursday’s opening round at St Andrews, however, Ireland’s leading player in the absence of injured defending champion Rory McIlroy — up one place to 45 in the latest official world rankings — believes patience will be less of a virtue around a soft Old Course.

“I don’t think patience is the key in St Andrews, scoring is going to be all right, so if you go out with the mentality of being patient all of a sudden you find yourself level par through 15 holes and the leader is five or six under,” Lowry said.

“So you need to be cautiously aggressive, I suppose, in tournaments like The Open. Be aggressive where you know you can be.

“I know the course well enough that I know how to play it, know you need to par a few holes like 17 and four and a few others, and the rest of the holes if you put it in position off the tee you have got a chance.”

Lowry, 28, arrived in St Andrews from the Scottish Open on Sunday night having come a long way from the first time he set foot on golf’s hallowed turf and signed for a chastening 81.

Yet his increasing familiarity with the Home of Golf has made each subsequent trip around the Old Course more rewarding.

He may have got off on the wrong foot at St Andrews, his 81 coming in an R&A collegiate tournament as a 19-year-old while at UCD and leading him to admit: “I didn’t know where I was going at all.

“To be honest, it was 40mph winds that day, I didn’t know what to make of it.

“The next time would have been the Dunhill (Alfred Dunhill Links Championship) in 09 and I loved it.

“There’s a strange feeling as a golfer walking up the 18th whether it be at the Dunhill Links or at the Open. It’s weird.

“Walking down the first, walking up the 18th, it’s just a weird feeling you get. It is the Home of Golf. It sounds clichéd and all that, with butterflies in your tummy sort of thing, it’s just something special walking up that hole.

“It does take a while to get to know it. If St Andrews was in the middle of Donegal or something, would it be as good? I don’t think so.

“The fact of where it is, the Home of Golf, it’s special that way. You do get to like it more the more you play it, I’ve played it a lot now. It’s one of those courses that grows on you over the years.”

Lowry’s Dunhill Links record, when two of the four rounds are played on the Old Course, is indeed an enviable one and despite the obvious differences between playing that European Tour event in either late September or October to teeing it up in The Open in July, his tie for third in 2013 and tie for sixth last year point to an encouraging trait, not least that his last eight rounds have been negotiated in 27 under par.

Lowry tied for ninth in last year’s Open at Hoylake but his debut came at St Andrews in 2010, finishing in a tie for 37th as Louis Oosthuizen took the Claret Jug.

“I’ve always said it was my favourite tournament that I’ve ever played in, so I’m looking forward to getting back there.”

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