Shane Lowry has reset his goals and regained his hunger for the game as he looks to build on the biggest win of his career.
Lowry won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in August but has played just once since his memorable victory at Firestone Country Club, missing the cut in the following week’s US PGA Championship.
The 28-year-old has enjoyed reflecting on his success in Akron and feels the six-week break will work in his favour in the closing stages of the season, starting with this week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
“I’ve been able to take a few weeks off and I’ve enjoyed my win, and then the last few weeks I decided to reassess and try to set some goals going forward,” Lowry said ahead of the pro-am event staged on the Old Course at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.
“When something like that happens, it’s tough to get my head around. It would be easy for me to sit back the rest of the year, say I’ve won a massive tournament and sit back at Christmas and be happy with that.
“I’m looking forward and looking to do a few more things in the next few weeks. I’m hoping to see another win, to contend in a few tournaments and finish at the top.
“I’m sure there probably will be a little bit of rust but I’ve played a lot of games the last few weeks with friends. I feel like I’m playing well. Feel like I’ve never had a break at all. But I do feel like my hunger is back and that’s kind of what I wanted to get after a few weeks off.
“Sometimes when you go through a long season and after a win like this, if you keep playing golf can kind of catch up with you and you can get burned out. I’m hoping those weeks off will stand me in good stead, not only this week but when it comes to the end of the year and The Race to Dubai and things like that.”
Lowry has missed the first four events in Ryder Cup qualifying but feels he is now ready to challenge for a place in Darren Clarke’s European side, which will look to retain the trophy at Hazeltine next year.
And a first major title is also on the agenda after he went into the final round of the US Open in June just three shots off the lead before finishing in a tie for ninth.
“I felt like the last Ryder Cup probably came a year too early for me,” Lowry added.
“I feel like a year later I can make the next team and that’s probably my main goal for the next five months.
“I know if I put myself in position, I can win a major. I’m not saying I’m going to go out and do it next year, but if I give myself a chance I know I can.”
Defending champion Oliver Wilson has struggled to build on the momentum of his emotional victory 12 months ago, when he began the week ranked 792nd in the world but held off the challenge of number one Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood and Richie Ramsay to win his first European Tour event after nine second places.
Wilson has made just five halfway cuts in 23 events this season but the former Ryder Cup player believes he is close to rediscovering his form.
“I had pretty realistic expectations after last year,” the 35-year-old said.
“It would be nice to think after winning the Dunhill that I just go back and keep on winning or getting in contention. I knew that wasn’t going to be the case.
“I gave myself six months after that to continue working on my swing and getting it in the position that I want to and it’s taken a little bit longer. In hindsight, I should probably not have played quite as many tournaments because I got into some really bad habits on the course.
“I’m very close to being able to stop working on my swing and trying to be more like I have always been, which is much more natural, contrary to what some people might think.
“It’s been frustrating but the end is in sight and I’m in a fortunate position that I can hopefully start next year from a clean slate.”
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