Shane Lowry is feeding on the nerves of playing in an Open Championship and being in contention. The Irishman opened up at Royal Portrush with a four-under par round of 67, enough to sit one shot off the overnight leader JB Holmes of the United States.
Lowry made five birdies and rued some missed opportunities in his back nine, albeit also having to scramble to save par in his final two holes. He admits there were plenty nerves on the first tee but suggests that is a natural thing when preparing for the ‘biggest tournament in the world’.
Lowry, who has already won on the European Tour this season, revealed he had a sit-down with coach Neil Manchip on the eve of the tournament that left him feeling ‘ready’ for the challenge. “I don’t feel like practice went unbelievably well this week. I felt a little bit uncomfortable,” he said.
“We went for a coffee yesterday down at the Bushmills Inn and we found a little quiet room, we had a great chat for about 40 minutes. “We just put everything out in the open, everything out on the table, what could happen, what might happen.
“I left that room full of confidence and ready to go. (But) I was probably as nervous as I’ve been in quite a while on the first tee, almost ever, I’d say.”
Lowry knows the magnitude of this week, having The Open return to Royal Portrush for the first time since 1951 and he is eager to remain in contention in the three days that lie ahead. “It’s the British Open, it’s in Ireland, I’m playing well – I feel like I should come up and do well,” he added.
“I’m sure there’s plenty of golfers standing on the first tee feeling uneasy. You wouldn’t be human if you weren’t nervous or uneasy about playing in the biggest tournament in the world.”
“I just hope I’m nervous on Sunday afternoon out there. It’s right where you want to be, and you have to tell yourself that when you’re there.”
Lowry, now 17.00 to win The Open, begins his second round at 12.53 BST on Friday alongside Phil Mickelson and Branden Grace, and he’s 2.10 to win that three-ball.