TROON, Scotland (AP) — First there was frustration, then there were tears. Then there was the realization that his first major title could just be round the corner.
Shane Lowry went through the whole gamut of emotions after throwing away a four-shot lead in the final round of U.S. Open last month. But in this most congested of golfing years, another big tournament is never far away and next up for the cuddly, always-smiling Irishman is the British Open at Royal Troon.
“I know I’ll be back there,” Lowry said Wednesday. “I know I’ll give myself a chance again. It’s just up to me to learn from the mistakes of that Sunday afternoon and bring that into the next one.”
After winning the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational last year and contending in two straight U.S. Opens, Lowry is starting to feel at home on the highest stage.
The Irish and Northern Irish have enjoyed unprecedented success in golf over the past decade – Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke have won nine majors between them since 2007 – and Lowry is the latest on the production line. He’s not lacking in confidence, either, despite his collapse at Oakmont.
“I genuinely believe that, without sounding too cocky, I like the big-time play. I like the big tournaments,” Lowry said. “I love playing in front of the big crowds. I love playing late on Saturdays and Sundays. I think it’s kind of where you want to be.”
Recent history is littered with golfers who have rebounded from final-round disappointments at a major tournament to win their first major title soon after. McIlroy won the U.S. Open in 2011, a few months after a meltdown at the Masters; Adam Scott threw away a four-shot lead with four holes to play at the British Open in 2012, and won the Masters the following year; and then there’s Dustin Johnson, who overhauled Lowry at the U.S. Open at Oakmont after a string of near misses at majors.
Lowry was eager to stress there was no hangover from Oakmont, saying “I’m well and truly over it” and “I’m not crying myself to sleep every night – I’ll survive.”
He’s taken advice from the likes of Harrington and McDowell, and even the great Jack Nicklaus had some wise words for Lowry.
“He said, ‘Listen, it’s your own mistake if you don’t learn from it,'” Lowry said of the 18-time major winner last week during the Scottish Open, “and I thought that was a good way to put it.”
“It’s kind of subconscious stuff,” Lowry said Wednesday. “When I say you learn from that, you can’t really sit down the following week and write stuff down. It’s just kind of maturing as both a player and a person when you get yourself into a situation like that. It’s nothing you can work on, I don’t think. It’s just something that you have to keep putting yourself there and you learn eventually.”
The 27th-ranked Lowry has one top-10 finish in his four previous appearances at the British Open – at Hoylake in 2014 – but knows how to play the links. As an Irishman, he’s had plenty of practice and recounted the times he’s played in 40 mph winds, and when one time he was unable to reach a par-4 in three shots during the Irish Amateur Championship in Portmarnock.
He is in a group with Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose for the first two rounds.
“It’s where you want to be in the world of golf,” Lowry said, “playing with the best players in the world and trying to compete against those.”