One among Shane Lowry’s first acts on Monday at Royal St. George’s upon his arrival to play within the 149th British Open was an disagreeable one: He needed to return the valuable Claret Jug to the powers that be on the Royal & Historic.
It was a pleasant — and prolonged — run for Lowry, although, as he’s had possession of the very best trophy in golf for 2 years. The 2019 British Open champion held onto the Claret Jug with the Open being canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19.
The 34-year-old Irishman stated Monday he has “no concept’’ what to anticipate because the de facto defending champion, two years faraway from triumphantly hoisting the jug on the 18th inexperienced at Royal Portrush, “however I’m form of going into this week with an open thoughts.’’
“I’ve defended tournaments earlier than,’’ Lowry went on, “however I’ve by no means come and defended a match of this magnitude. All the pieces that occurs for me this week is form of new. Clearly, there’s going to be excessive stress at sure phases. I’d similar to to place up a very good protection of my trophy.’’
One factor Lowry is each trying ahead to and looking out ahead to getting out of the best way is his opening tee shot on Thursday.
“To be introduced on the primary tee as defending champion, I’ll be completely satisfied clearly to get that tee shot away,’’ he stated. “And, for those who’ve seen the tough down the primary gap, I’ll be happier if it’s on the green.’’
Since Lowry’s victory, his efficiency dipped then elevated, but it surely has not but produced a win. He completed tied for 52nd and forty eighth within the two FedExCup occasions he performed after successful the Open in 2019. Then 2020 was a misplaced 12 months for him. He performed in 13 occasions, missed three cuts and the one two outcomes he produced within the high 10 had been a tie for sixth on the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational and a tie for thirteenth on the Zozo in Japan.
Lowry stated his 2020 dip had lots to do with taking part in in entrance of no spectators due to COVID and that he believes it was an anomaly.
“I look again on 2020 as a season, and with out making excuses an excessive amount of, I believe taking part in in entrance of followers does it for me,’’ Lowry stated. “Not taking part in in entrance of followers doesn’t do it for me. I struggled final 12 months popping out of lockdown. I simply was stale after I acquired on the market. I simply couldn’t get it going.
“Even little issues, like for those who’re struggling to make a reduce or for those who’re down on the backside of the sphere, having folks on the market on the golf course form of spurs you on somewhat bit,’’ he went on. “We’re within the leisure enterprise after we’re on the market, and when I’ve a troublesome shot or after I’m caught behind a tree or I’ve a troublesome up-and-down, I’m making an attempt to nearly exhibit somewhat bit.
“I really feel like 2020 is form of a little bit of a write-off for me. It’s form of put behind me and transfer on, and this 12 months fortunately has been somewhat bit higher.’’
Certainly, Lowry has posted some spectacular finishes in 2021. He enters this week having performed in six occasions, with an eighth-place end at The Gamers Championship, a tie for fourth on the PGA Championship and a tie for sixth on the Memorial. His final end result, although, was a tie for sixty fifth on the U.S. Open.
Lowry could have the spectators again this week at St. George’s, the place 32,000 followers will probably be in attendance every day — all of whom should present proof of vaccination or damaging COVID check.
Lowry is able to get on along with his protection.
“You by no means get sick of listening to that you simply’re the Open champion, however I’m form of able to defend it,’’ he stated. “I’m able to go and play within the Open once more and I’m trying ahead to it. I look again on Portrush with unimaginable reminiscences and fond reminiscences and one thing that I’ll have it doesn’t matter what I do for the remainder of my profession. I’ll all the time have that.
“Portrush is the head of my profession. No matter I do in the remainder of my profession, I’ll by no means get anyplace shut, not to mention high it. I’m very grateful it occurred. I’ll most likely spend the remainder of my profession chasing that very same feeling once more.’’
The chase is on this week in Southeast England, the place Lowry will hope to be taking that Claret Jug again house with him for a 3rd consecutive 12 months.