The Rory Killer: Shane Lowry capitalizes on Match Play upset

March 28, 2013

If you think he’s been shooting up the World Rankings (no. 69 and rising), you should see how fast Ireland's Shane Lowry drives his sports car. We caught up with Lowry to talk about his surprise win against Rory McIlroy in the first-round of Accenture Match Play championship and his outside chance of making it to his first Masters.

You won the Irish Open as an amateur. As you get ready to play in this week’s Shell Houston Open, has your pro career gone as expected?
Yeah, I’ve progressed every year. I’ve done well over the last four years. I won the Portuguese Masters last year, my second win on the European Tour.

Are you being received everywhere as the "Rory Killer" after beating your pal Rory McIlroy in the first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play?
[Laughs] I don’t know about that. Hopefully, I do something so I won’t be known as the fellow who beat Rory the rest of the year.

You chipped in twice in a span of two holes at Dove Mountain; did he give you some stick for getting lucky?
He actually did. I was playing a practice round with him yesterday and I almost chipped in on the last to get a halve with him, so he was giving me a bit of stick. He beat me 1-up so I’ll have to buy dinner. We’re going to go somewhere in Houston; I had a pro-am dinner last night so I had to go to that.

When was the last time you chipped in twice in one round?
In 2010. I remember it pretty well. I’d been out for four months with a broken wrist, and my first round back I managed to chip in twice at the Sicilian Open, but I still missed the cut by about 10 strokes.

How did you break your wrist?
I slipped on the ice. We had a bad winter back home in Ireland. I was getting out of my car and slipped and broke a bone in my right wrist.

What’s your ride these days?
A Nissan GT-R. It’s a sports car. I think Rickie Fowler’s got one. It’s quite a fast car; it’s probably one of the fastest cars you can get.

How fast have you gone in it?
I don’t know if I can say that.

Oh, come on.
I think I’ve done 150, or 140—dangerous.

What was the most memorable reaction you got for beating Rory? Did you get any phone calls from important sportsmen or politicians?
I suppose a couple of Irish sportspeople tweeted me and stuff, but I don’t know if you’d have heard of them here. One was a guy that plays football for Ireland—or your soccer—named Sean St. Ledger. My mom cried on the phone. I told her it was only the first round, but she was so happy for me.

How did you develop such a deadly short game?
The course I grew up on, a place called Esker Hills just outside Tullamore in Ireland, has raised greens, all of them raised four feet at least, and you had to have quite a good short game. I used to always use my lob wedge.

How old were you when you first got to know Rory?
The first time I met him I was about 16. We played in a boys’ tournament; there are four provinces in Ireland. He played for Ulster, and I played for Leinster. Our teams played each other but we didn’t play each other.

After beating Rory at the Accenture, and beating Carl Pettersson in round two before losing to Graeme McDowell, you got on TV again for being in Rory’s gallery at the Honda Classic. What were you doing in town?
I tried to Monday-qualify and I’ve got a good friend who lives at Mirasol, which is across the road. I was staying with him and we were playing some golf and had the afternoon off. I was playing in a mini-tour event. I didn’t do very good.

At 69th in the World Ranking you’ve got an outside shot at getting into the Masters if you play well this week. Is that something that’s been on your mind or are you simply trying to establish a foothold on a particular tour?
It’s been on my mind too much recently and that’s why I haven’t fulfilled my potential here. I’ve been trying too hard to get in and trying too hard to play well. I haven’t checked my World Ranking in a few weeks.

Oh, sorry—I just blew it for you.
You did, yeah. But I’m just going to try and play as good as I can this week and see what happens.

You’re a big guy, and some of the bigger Americans like David Duval and Carl Pettersson have lost weight, only to lose their games as well. Will you try to drop a few pounds, or have you learned from their example?
I’m not trying to lose weight. I’m just trying to become healthier in my whole lifestyle. Whether that means me losing a few pounds remains to be seen. I’m trying to be more professional about things and do a bit of training. I’ll probably lose a bit of weight, but it won’t be too drastic of a change.