Open champion Shane Lowry has switched his focus from parental responsibilities to trying to reclaim top spot in the Race to Dubai at the Italian Open.
Lowry first headed the money list after his victory in Abu Dhabi in January and moved back out in front after claiming his maiden major title in brilliant fashion at Royal Portrush in July.
Jon Rahm’s second win of the season in the Mutuactivos Open de Espana on Sunday took him above Lowry in the standings, but the Ryder Cup star will not play again on the European Tour until the season-ending event in Dubai.
In contrast, Lowry is part of a strong field at Olgiata Golf Club in Rome for this week’s lucrative Rolex Series event and is also scheduled the play the WGC-HSBC Champions in China and either the Turkish Airlines Open or Nedbank Golf Challenge before Dubai.
“It’s probably going to come down to the last couple of events,” Lowry told a pre-tournament press conference. “I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing all year.
“Do I keep an eye on it? I actually watched a little bit of the golf on Sunday but, before that, I didn’t watch any of it because I just didn’t have time the rest of the week.
My wife Wendy was away so I was on daddy daycare for a week, I was looking after Iris. I had a couple of things on late in the week that I had to do and did a little bit of practice but didn’t get that much done.
“I’m out here this week now and, thankfully, I played on Tuesday and I felt okay. Hopefully I can get out there this week and shoot some good scores and give myself a chance at the weekend.
“It’s very exciting that I’m there and I’m looking forward to the challenge of trying to win the Race to Dubai. I want to keep trying to pick up some Ryder Cup points and keep challenging myself every day to shoot the best scores I can, keep playing my golf, keep doing what I’ve been doing all year and win the Race to Dubai.
"That would kind of top off what has already been an incredible year.”
Francesco Molinari won the Race to Dubai last year after also winning the Open and Lowry will partner the Italian Ryder Cup star and England’s Matt Wallace in the opening two rounds.
Ian Poulter is also in the field after deciding against defending his Houston Open title on the PGA Tour instead.
Poulter won in Houston last April to seal a last-gasp entry into the Masters but the tournament has been a casualty of the rejigged schedule, attracting just two of the world’s top 50 - Henrik Stenson and Keegan Bradley - and 10 players inside the top 100.
Poulter defeated Beau Hossler on the first play-off hole at the Golf Club of Houston last April to win his first title since November 2012 and seal the final place in the Masters the following week.
Former Open champion Stenson is the favourite to end his two-year winless streak in Houston, but the world number 37 will have to do without one of his trusted clubs.
The day before the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth last month, Stenson noticed that the face of his 3-wood had caved in an was no longer playable.
“It’s always sad when one of the trusties has to retire,” Stenson told the PGA Tour website. I knew long before I gave up on it that the new technology was better and more efficient. When the other one broke in 2017, in February, I was out at a tournament in Dubai and I had to put a new one in.
“That thing that I put in for that week was much hotter (but) if you’re standing there on the 72nd hole and you’ve got to hit a shot to position yourself to win the tournament, you don’t want to have something you picked up two days ago. You want to have something you hit 5,000 shots with. I think the efficiency of this new one will probably be better than the one I had been using. The old stuff is out and the new stuff is in.”