As leading questions go, Shane Lowry was quick and willing to take the bait. Citing the combination of green run-offs, chipping importance and forecasted winds, “a lot of people have put two and two together and thought…” “It's a guarantee, isn't it?” quipped Lowry of conditions tailor-made to suit his chances to win the PGA Championship at Southern Hills.
Joking aside, Lowry remains chuffed at his chances to tick off another major. His form this year speaks for itself and is similar to 2019 when he broke through to win the Open Championship at Royal Portrush. He’s had great chances to win already in Abu Dhabi, PGA National, Augusta National and Harbour Town and posted consistently strong results top-25 in every stroke-play start he’s made all season.
So when conditions such as the ones presented at Southern Hills seem favourable to Lowry’s strengths, he’s a natural choice to be a contender.
“Let's just put it that way. It's a good opportunity for me to go out there and show people what I'm made of again this week, and hopefully I can be there or thereabouts come the weekend,” Lowry said.
It is a similar feeling Lowry had heading into the Masters last month, and he followed through on his confidence by putting himself in the hunt and posting his career-best finish at tied third. A year ago he tied fourth at Kiawah Island in the PGA Championship – playing the final round with close friend Pádraig Harrington in what Lowry calls “one of the most enjoyable rounds of my career” – so he’s keen on himself again this week.
“Quietly confident” is the way he described himself.
“I think going into a big week you always have expectations of yourself,” Lowry said. “I've obviously been in some decent form of late. Yeah, I'd like to come here and give myself a chance come Saturday or Sunday afternoon. That's kind of what it's all about, and that's the reason we play the game.
“I did feel good about Augusta and I gave myself a great chance that weekend. Obviously I went to Hilton Head the following week and probably should have won.
“But I've had three weeks off. I feel recharged and ready to go for the rest of the summer. I've got a good run of tournaments coming up, so look, I just try and prepare as best I can for a week like this, and I know there's a big summer ahead of me. If it doesn't happen this week, just keep going, and hopefully it will happen at some stage the next few months.”
At 35 years old and with a claret jug in his possession, Lowry is in peak form to add to his major championship legacy. That hunger to win more majors is there, even if the desperation of a player who lacks major credentials isn’t.
“Obviously, I'd love to win more majors, but I don't think that's a given,” he said. “I think that's just kind of something that you need to go out and work towards, and if it comes your way, you need to take it.
“If I was to finish with no more majors, would I be okay with that? Yeah. But I do want more. I am very driven and a very competitive guy. I know I want to win more majors, and I want to win more tournaments. But would I be happy when I'm finished with what I have now? Yeah, I suppose I would. But that doesn't make me any less driven.”
That drive was on display at Augusta when despite his high finish and Scottie Scheffler’s top form, Lowry walked away feeling like he’d let one get away from him – proud of the effort but not satisfied with the result. It’s a far cry from the Sunday morning at Portrush when Lowry had doubts that he could pull it off before going out and proving that he could.
“I know if I put myself there on Saturday and Sunday that I've got what it takes to do it. That's kind of where you get your confidence from, something like that,” he said.
“I think at the start of the week, golf is something that you take nothing for granted because you don't know what it's going to give you. So you just have to go about your business and do your thing. And then when it comes to the weekend, if I put myself there, I know I have what it takes to compete with the best of them. That's kind of where the confidence comes from.
“I've put myself there or thereabouts at Augusta, and that was cool. That was quite special. Obviously, I didn't do it or didn't do as well as I would have liked. I think over the course of my career over the next however many years I play and I'm in major championships and I'm at the top level, I think I just want to give myself a few chances. If I give myself a few chances, I feel like I maybe can win one more.”