Lowry looks to get back on track at Sawgrass
Shane Lowry is due to tee off in the Players Championship at Sawgrass shortly after 6pm today (Irish time). And the Offaly golfer is aiming to banish the memory of last week's showing at Bay Hill when he failed to make the cut.
"I’ve never played too well at Bay Hill and, to be honest, I won’t be in any rush back. It’s frustrating at the moment as I feel like I’m hitting the middle of every fairway but I’m just not getting the rewards on the greens," said Lowry, in his capacity as an ambassador for Paddy Power.
"Sawgrass is a real second-shot course and that part of my game is solid. My coach Neil Manchip is out this week and we’ve been doing some good work trying to get my confidence back.
"I like the track and have done okay there before. In 2016, I played the back nine in seven under (five birdies and an eagle) to become the first player to break 30 on the back nine. Hopefully, there’s more of that this week as things aren’t going my way at the moment.
"Every golfer has these runs and we all know we’re just one week away from producing something special if we can hang in there. I had it the season before my Open Championship triumph at Royal Portrush when golf wasn’t my friend and know it’s just a question of getting my confidence back on the greens."
Lowry also gave his views on the form of some of the stars expected to be among the contenders in Sawgrass - Bryson De Chambeau, Lee Westwood and Jordan Spieth.
"We’ve seen over the last few weeks of the season that players do rebound quickly when things start to flow. Jordan Spieth is playing golf like he used to again and Lee Westwood is playing some of the best golf of his career. I actually spent a bit of time with Lee and can see that he’s in good form off the course and that is transferring to his game on the course too," said the Clara native.
"Looking at him last weekend going toe-to-toe with Bryson De Chambeau bombing those drives was very impressive. It would have been intimidating enough but you really appreciate the mettle Lee showed when up against a young gun like Bryson in the heat of battle.
"Those drives at the par 5 sixth hole were something else from Bryson. It was cool to watch. You can have the ability to hit the ball as far as you want but to have the balls to take it on when you’re contending for a tournament on Sunday afternoon takes some doing.
"Funnily enough, my dad (Brendan) told me how great it was to see the crowds roaring on Bryson last weekend. They’re shouting at Bryson booming it off the tee and my dad can’t even get out to play golf! Hopefully I can give him something to roar about come Sunday night," Lowry continued.
Asked about the recent car crash involving Tiger Woods, Lowry said: "I was out playing a practice round when I heard about Tiger Woods’ car crash a few weeks back. Your first thought is obviously nothing to do with golf – you’re just hoping he’s not badly injured.
"The longer the day went on I was just picking up the updates from the TV News and it seemed he had been badly injured but had survived so that was a huge relief to everyone.
"I’ve heard nothing out on Tour about what lies ahead for Tiger or the extent of his injuries but from the outside looking in it looks like it will be a long road back to competitive golf for Tiger."
As for the prospect of playing golf in front of crowds again, Lowry said: "One thing that will be good to see is that we’re expecting crowds of about 10,000 a day at the Players Championship.
"There seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel and it would be great to get back playing in front of full galleries again. All the players definitely miss the buzz and the atmosphere of playing in front of crowds and can’t wait for them to return in big numbers soon as Major season approaches. Crowds definitely give us a lift.
"Last year, we got one round in and the tournament was abandoned and we’re only getting back to some sort of normality now – even though there’s till stringent testing," Shane added
*Shane Lowry was speaking exclusively to Paddy Power News. To read more, visit news.paddypower.com