Shane Lowry. (AFP Photo)
SAN FRANCISCO: Shane Lowry has gone from wondering when his British Open victory will finally sink in to thinking how long before he gets another shot at more glory.
The 33-year-old won golf‘s last major championship by capturing the British Open at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland 13 months ago, making him golf’s longest reigning major champion.
“It is very strange times. The last sort of six or eight months, and yeah, I am the most recent major champion, although it doesn’t feel like it because it was so long ago.
“But I’m happy to be back playing a major championship.”
Golf’s first major of 2020, the PGA Championship, will be contested this week without spectators at the TPC Harding Park in San Francisco after the season was placed on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to his emotional British Open triumph, Lowry has collected three European Tour victories, and one other PGA Tour victory at the 2015 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Since the restart, Lowry missed the cut in two of his first four events then finished sixth at last week’s WGC tournament in Memphis.
After some middling results following his first major win, Lowry says he is finally starting to find his form again.
“I’m excited for the week ahead,” he said during practice on Wednesday.
“I managed to play myself into a little bit of form last week. I was happy with that. We’ll see how it goes.”
Lowry will tee off on Thursday with Gary Woodland and Brooks Koepka in a group that comprises the past three major winners.
Koepka is going for a PGA three-peat and Woodland won last year’s US Open in Pebble Beach, California.
“It’s just going to be a difficult week, and I just feel like if I can play my best golf, I can give myself a chance,” said Lowry. “But it does need my best golf.
“I never really try and peak for a big tournament. I just kind of warm up and practice and prepare as best I can and see what it gives me on that given week.”
He said the winner is going to be someone who can adapt to changing weather patterns, including much cooler temperatures than the players are used to when they play in other parts of California like Los Angeles and Palm Springs.
“He’s going to have to drive well and scramble well,” Lowry said. “Because with how windy it is and how cold it is, it’s going to be quite hard to gauge distances.
“Like coming from Memphis last week where it’s almost 100 degrees and your ball is going quite far. There’s a lot of distance to take off this week.”