Two months on from his Open Championship glory, Shane Lowry believes it is time for the next chapter. And fortunately for the 32-year-old he has the perfect motivation here at the BMW PGA Championship to turn the page and attain two more of his lifetime aims.
Firstly, there is the European Tour’s Race to Dubai and Lowry’s bid to become the fifth Irishman to lift the Harry Vardon Trophy in its 82-year history. Then there is next year’s Ryder Cup and a debut that would be long overdue. No wonder, that he wants to move on as he competes on UK soil for the first time since Royal Portrush.
“I’ve played a couple of events in the States since the Open and coming back here this week it’s kind of new again, where everybody is coming up and congratulating me,” Lowry said. “The first time I was announced as Champion Golfer of the Year was pretty cool – it’s a lovely title to have – but to be honest I’m quite eager to get on with my golf and I’m looking forward to trying to achieve different goals I have for the rest of the year.
“The Race to Dubai is the obvious one. I’m No 1 at the moment and I want to stay there, but I’m going to have to play good golf and I’m going to have to maybe win again.”
Lowry is just 400 points clear of Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, but with so many big-money events in the remaining weeks even a player such as Rory McIlroy, 34th in the standings, cannot be ruled out.
Lowry has been drawn with the world No 2 here for the first two rounds and, as this is the first qualifying event for the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits next year, the subject is bound to come up in conversation between these former Irish team partners.
Lowry has made no secret of his ambition in this regard and, despite his stature as major winner and world No 21, he believes his close relationship with captain Padraig Harrington will not guarantee him a wild card, if required.
Anything but, in fact. “It’s a bit like when your dad is the manager of the local football team – it’s nearly harder for you to get on it,” Lowry said. “You must play better than anyone else, so no one can accuse you of not being there on merit.
“Padraig wouldn’t take too kindly to me referring to him as my dad or anything – but I know I’m going to have to make the team off my own steam and not rely on a captain’s pick. That’s always been my plan anyway and that’s what I’ll be trying to do from Thursday.”
Lowry has a fine record at the West Course, with five top-15 finishes in his past seven starts here, including when runner-up to McIlroy in 2014.
However, there is a strong field for this new incarnation of the Tour’s flagship event – because of the revamp in the major calendar it has been moved back from May – including 10 of the victorious 2018 Europe Ryder Cup team.
The only absentees are last week’s winner Sergio Garcia and Thorbjorn Olesen, the Dane who is suspended from the Tour pending a sexual assault court case. Olesen, 29, is due to stand trial at nearby Isleworth Crown Court on Wednesday.
Justin Rose could yet be a late withdrawal. The Englishman jarred a knee last week and has pulled out of the pro-am. “I am doing everything I can to be fit to play,” the world No 4 said.