Shane Lowry’s Sunday started early and it finished early.
It was 4.30am in the morning when he opened his eyes and found out that the Offaly U20 footballers had seen off Cork to claim a spot in the All-Ireland final. Sure, that was that. What chance sleep in the midst of a Faithful revival?
The 2019 Open champion is sharing a room with his brother Alan, who has been standing in as his caddie this week, and once one Lowry heard that result the other was never going to be left long in blissful ignorance.
“I shouted at him, Offaly are after winning! So I couldn’t sleep after that.”
A peaceful night’s rest may have been beyond him again last night after a bitterly disappointing fourth round here that saw his ambitions for a medal slip away even before he had made it to the turn.
Already one-over for the day after a bogey on the par-four fourth, Lowry found timber on the ninth. Twice, actually, his second shot skimming bark once and then again, and it cost him a double bogey. “That sums up my day right there,” he told the brother.
It actually got better in that he went around in three-under for the back nine but it was too little too late for a man who, had he carded something like Rory Sabbatini’s 61, or Collin Morikawa’s 63, would have been right in the mix for medals.
He had spoken so eloquently and passionately all week about what it meant to represent his country here. A medal would be more for Ireland than himself, he said on Saturday. If anything, he wanted this a little too much.
“Yeah, I think so. It probably happened me today a little bit. I was so happy with that putt on the last (to save par on Saturday) and that I was still in the hunt and I really wanted to get off to a good start and I just didn’t play well on the front nine.
“To be honest, it’s not that I didn’t play well on that front nine, it was brutal. Three-over around that nine holes in these conditions is not good at all. That’s probably one of the worst nine holes I played this year. That’s so disappointing to do it when the stakes are so high.
“There is still a lot of positive stuff there. I have got a lot of big tournaments coming up and, like I said, I’m lucky that… This won’t sit with me. When I get to Memphis I will take a day off and Tuesday I will be out practising and my main focus will be trying to make FedEx points and Ryder Cup points.”
Regret and hope. It’s a weird cocktail but that’s where he is.
He didn’t drive the ball at all well this week, which hasn’t been like him of late. The flip side is that he hasn’t often felt better on the greens than over here. It’s just that one thing, that one area of his game every week, that is holding him back. “As soon as it all comes together I hope I will win and I hope that that’s a big event in the next few weeks.”
He remains on course for his main goal this year: a place on Pádraig Harrington’s Ryder Cup team at Whistling Straits in September and he was on the same charter plane as McIlroy last night, back to the States and on to this week’s WGC event in Memphis. And then a week off. Which is good timing.
Offaly’s U20s will face either Roscommon or Down in that All-Ireland final the same weekend and Lowry will be there to support the county: as he was for the senior hurlers in finals back in 1995, ’98 and 2000, and the footballers in the Leinster decider in ‘06.
Two of the panel hail from his own beloved Clara and Lowry himself went in to chat to the panel a few months ago when Covid was at its height. He’s hoping for a more up-close look at them this time around.
“I can’t wait to see Offaly in an All-Ireland final.”