If the video clips doing the rounds on social media yesterday are anything to believe, Shane Lowry has been living up to his pledge to enjoy his magnificent and well-deserved Open Championship victory.
Yet on Sunday night as the famous Claret Jug sat by the side of golf’s newest major champion, the sixth Irishman to win a major following Fred Daly, Pádraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke, and Rory McIlroy, Lowry’s plans for the celebration were decidedly short-term.
Once the dust settles on this famous, emotional, and historic six-stroke victory at Royal Portrush in the wind and rain last Sunday, the 32-year-old will quickly recalibrate and turn his focus back on the business of more tournament victories, world rankings, and the accumulation of points for both the European Tour’s Race To Dubai and its more lucrative PGA Tour equivalent, the FedEx Cup.
All of the above have been considerably boosted by the Clara golfer’s Open victory, which catapulted him back into the world’s top 20 at a career-high number 17; moved him from third to first in the Race To Dubai standings, having also won the Abu Dhabi Championship in January; and from 68th to 18th on the FedEx Cup table, three weeks out from that competition’s first of three play-off events that could lead to a massive $10m end-of-season payday.
Yet Lowry also has longer-term objectives. Chief among them is making his Ryder Cup debut for Europe under captain and close friend Pádraig Harrington when the team defends its title against the US at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin, in September 2020.
Qualification for the Americans is well under way but the European process for the nine automatic selections does not begin until September’s European Tour flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
With a major championship victory now under his belt, Lowry would be under consideration for one of Harrington’s three captain’s picks but he will want to do his friend a favour and qualify by right. Aside from everything else, he is determined to build on his Portrush glory.
“The one thing you want to do is you want to back up your success,” said Lowry. “So obviously in the short-term, I’m going to enjoy this, there’s no doubt about that. But in the long-term, you obviously want to back up your success.
“My big goal still remains the same and that is to be on the plane going to Whistling Straits next year.
“That’s my plan for the next 12 months. Hopefully that involves a couple of wins along the way.
“This is huge for me. Obviously a major championship and my first season winning twice. I have a lot to play for now. I’m well up there in the FedExCup now, which is nice. And I’m well up in The Race To Dubai. So I’ve got a busy few months ahead of me and I’m very excited. But I’m really going to enjoy this first.”
Lowry made plain his sense of attachment and loyalty to his professional golfing roots, as well as the Irish touring pros who took him under their wing when he joined the paid ranks in 2009 following his Irish Open win at Baltray, just the third European Tour title won by an amateur.
“When I gatecrashed on to the Tour, there’s a lot of people that helped me along the way. First of all, when I came out Gary Murphy, Damien McGrane, Peter Lawrie, I was young and they made sure that I was always... I flew with them, same flights, stayed in the same hotels, went to dinner with them, played practice rounds with them. They were great for me.
“And obviously Paddy and G-Mac, they’re two really good friends of mine now. To be able to hang around with someone like Pádraig Harrington who is, as we all know, paved the way for the success of Irish golfers. I’m just so happy I can add my name to the list of major champions.
“I used to curse them an awful lot in the past because that’s all anybody wanted to know about in Ireland because they were winning so many majors. ‘When are you going to win one?’
“Winning regular events wasn’t good enough for anyone.
“We’re very lucky, Irish golfers. People might say there’s not enough Irish golfers on Tour but look at the standard of Irish golfers we have. Rory McIlroy is one of the best players in the world, if not the best on his day. And G-Mac, I think, is getting his stroke back. And the careers that Paddy and Darren and those guys have had is just incredible.”