Team Ireland

European Tour: Shane Lowry Talks Debut at 2020 Saudi International

PGA Tour and European tour professional Shane Lowry speaks to the media ahead of the 2020 Saudi International about possible new premier golf league, the olympics, and current state of his game heading into this week.

PGA Tour and European tour professional Shane Lowry speaks to the media ahead of the 2020 Saudi International about possible new premier golf league, the olympics, and current state of his game heading into this week.

European Tour: Shane Lowry speaks with the media prior to making Saudi International debut

STEVE TODD: Shane, thanks for joining us. Your debut in this event after the inaugural event last year. I know you got a chance to have a look at the golf course yesterday here at Royal Greens. Just give us your initial impressions of it, having played nine holes.

SHANE LOWRY: Yeah, it’s very good. You know, I didn’t know what to expect coming here. It’s very much a Middle East-style golf course, and something that I like the look of it straightaway. It’s in great condition.

You know, hopefully I can go out and play well, but I do really like the look of the golf course, and as I said, it’s in absolutely perfect condition. So I’m looking forward to it.

STEVE TODD: You mentioned Middle East golf courses, you’ve played a lot around the Middle East and have a great deal of success. How much do you enjoy that style of golf.

SHANE LOWRY: Yeah, I’ve done well in obviously Abu Dhabi, Race to Dubai, played okay in the Desert Classic the last couple of years. Yeah, it’s the type of golf that I like. The wind picks up here in the afternoon, which would suit me a little bit, as well. It is a type of golf that I do enjoy playing. It’s perfect weather and perfect condition golf course. You wouldn’t want to be playing anywhere else. It’s just perfect. It’s ideal, yeah.

STEVE TODD: And quick word on the game, Hong Kong, and solid week last week, as well, to come into this week.

SHANE LOWRY: Obviously I got off to a great start in Hong Kong after a long break and didn’t know what to expect. Then came to Abu Dhabi, and I sort of had a mental error on the last hole and missed the cut out of nowhere.

I felt, to be honest, last Sunday morning, just looking at last week, I finished 11th, probably would have liked to finish better, but any Sunday morning you’re sitting there eating your breakfast and feel like you have a chance to win the tournament is a good day.

Yeah, I feel like my form is okay, and hoping to do all right this week and pick up a few more World Ranking points, Ryder Cup points.

Q. You faced a couple of really tough tests in the first two events of the Middle East swing. How does this compare to those? Is it quite nice, even if it is a little easier than those two, the rough in particular?
SHANE LOWRY: I only played the back nine yesterday, and it’s obviously to the going to be as penal as Dubai was last week. I mean, that was fairly brutal how that course was set up. Brutal as in hard, not bad.

I think this golf course will obviously play a little easier, but there’s a few spots you can find yourself in a bit of trouble like, a few run-offs into the water and stuff like that, run-offs into the desert. When you don’t know a golf course, you need to figure it out fairly quickly and where the misses are.

But hopefully, obviously it won’t be as hard of scoring as last week, but it will be similar. I think it will be like similar to Abu Dhabi, sort of mid teens probably win around near, I don’t know, to be honest.

Q. Last week, the consensus it was brutal but people seemed to enjoy playing how the course was set up?
SHANE LOWRY: Yeah, I just think we got to Sunday — if the wind didn’t blow as hard as it did Sunday, it would have been a perfect week. I think it was just a little bit brutal on Sunday. Too, with me going out, I thought if I could shoot 3- or 4-under, I would win the tournament, and it did suit the guys coming from behind. It didn’t suit the leaders at all.

Yeah, it was set up — it was fairly hard last week, not what we are used to in Dubai. So I think that’s kind of what threw everyone at start of the week. But it was good. It was a good test of golf.

Q. Having a good friend out there in the practice round yesterday, how good is it to see Cormac Sharvin on the Tour, and another Irishman there, as well?
SHANE LOWRY: Yeah, it’s great. When I started on Tour there, was 12 Irish on Tour, and now obviously there’s not as many. It’s great to see him here. Obviously his nephew is my caddie, so there’s a bit of added interest there.

I played with him for the first time at Lahinch last year in a practice round. I was very impressed. Impressed again yesterday. Even we played with Martin yesterday, and me and Martin talked about him last night and Martin was impressed with him. Hopefully he’s got a bright future and he can get his season off to a good start this week and maybe have a good year and I suppose make The Race to Dubai or something would be a good season.

Q. We talked to a couple guys yesterday about the Olympics. I know it’s a long way off and I know the schedule is kind of brutal, but what does the Olympics mean to you, and would you ever conceive for yourself skipping if you were to qualify?
SHANE LOWRY: Well, I skipped last one. I got a bit of stick for that.

No, it’s fully in my schedule this year. I mean, I’m not guaranteed on the team yet, but it would take a really good season for someone to pass me. My flight’s booked. I’m due to fly out the Wednesday after The Open and go to the Opening Ceremony and hopefully play.

I think what it means to — look, I’d be sitting here right now, this year, sort of the second Olympics, does it mean more than the majors? Probably not. But I do see it down the line being a big thing in golf. But the thing is for me, being Irish, we don’t win many Gold Medals at the Olympics. So I think that’s one kind of goal that I have in my head; that I think it would be incredible to bring a Gold Medal back to Ireland. That’s kind of the way I’m going about it this year.

I think the Olympics will grow, and golf will grow in the Olympics and I think in 20, 30 years’ time, I think it will be huge. It will be like a fifth major I think.

But right now, you know, some people would say that the majors are probably, you know, a little bit more important, but because we play — we have the four majors. We are very lucky. We have four majors every year. Look, we’ve got 20, I play between 25 and 30 events every year, but the other Olympic athletes, they are training for four years for one thing. So that’s not the way we go about our business.

We never grew up. I never grew up dreaming of winning an Olympic Gold Medal, but it just kind of got — we got thrown into it a few years ago, and now it’s a reality. So it will be pretty cool to go out there and see what it like and hopefully come back with a medal for Ireland.

Q. The reason four years ago?
SHANE LOWRY: I did get a lot of stick for it, but the whole Zika virus thing. It was funny, myself and my wife, we had just got married and we were trying for a baby. Honestly the day before we went to, I had to make my decision, and the day before we made the decision, she found out she was pregnant. She was only five weeks pregnant at the time, and we didn’t want to take any sort of chance at all. Now we’ve got a healthy and happy little girl. No Olympic medal can match that.

Q. Did you feel it was unfair on you at that time to get that stick? A lot of guys were being accused of using the Zika virus as a convenient excuse?
SHANE LOWRY: I got accused of that, and it was a genuine excuse for me. But look, I think the way I go about my business, I don’t worry about what other people think. I just made the decision for me and my family, and that was the biggest thing for me.

Lowry Talks New Golf Tour

Q. A lot of talk about a proposed new world golf tour. What are your thoughts?
SHANE LOWRY: I genuinely don’t know anything about it. Obviously I’ve heard the rumbling about it, people talking about it, a little bit about it. But I genuinely don’t know anything about it.

It would be hard to sit here and talk about anything to do with that. I’m a European Tour and PGA Tour player. That’s what I am, and who knows what’s going to happen, but I don’t know much about it to be honest.

Q. Do you feel golf needs a shake-up or are you a traditionalist?
SHANE LOWRY: I’m very much a traditionalist. I don’t like — I don’t see new formats or anything like that being a way to go about golf.

I think golf is a great game. We’re very lucky to do what we do for a living and we’re very lucky to be involved in such a great game and such a great history. I love golf the way it is, and I’m happy with that.

Q. Can I just ask from a local point of view, this is obviously second Saudi International, and a lot of people are coming for the first time. Is it refreshing to come to a new places like this?
SHANE LOWRY: Yeah, look, it’s always cool and interesting to come to new places. I find The European Tour is always like that. You always go to different place, see different cultures. It is pretty cool to come to a new place and see what it’s like.

Coming here, you don’t know what to expect, and it’s been really nice so far. I’ve enjoyed my time so far here.

Q. Going back to the question of the proposed new tour, do you think you would get 48 people who are not traditionalists and very happy to take off with that, or not?
SHANE LOWRY: I don’t know. It depends what people are talking about, as well. I just don’t know. Like we’re very fortunate to play in the tournaments we play in, and for the purses and the opportunities to win big tournaments. It’s just hard to tell.

Look, there’s obviously a certain — the top of world golf is very strong at the minute. So I mean, I think you’d need those guys first, but I just don’t know if you get 48 players.

Q. Do you think perhaps people ought to be more satisfied with what they have got? You’re talking about it as if it’s all very precious, but do you think maybe —
SHANE LOWRY: What do you mean by —

Q. You’re very happy with the tours you’ve got and you’re very grateful for what you’ve got.
SHANE LOWRY: Yeah, look, I always say it. I’m very lucky to do what I do for a living and I love doing it. I’m very lucky to be able to provide for my family very well that way, and I think, you know, that’s the way I look at it. So I mean, I don’t know, do we need something else? I don’t know. I don’t think so. You know, right now, I’m very happy doing what I’m doing. So you know, yeah, I don’t know what else to say. I’m just very happy the way it is now. There’s nothing else I can say.

Q. Is there one thing you would change?

Q. On the tours you play?
SHANE LOWRY: No. Like I say, golf’s a great game. We’re very fortunate to do — I keep saying it; we’re very fortunate to do what we do. But even you look at today, go out and playing in the Pro-Am, what other sport in the world can you go out with the sponsors the of the tournament and actually play the same golf course the day before the event? You know, stuff like that, you just can’t do in other sports. That’s why I think golf is a great game. People of all standards, age, sizes get involved and play with other people. That’s why I love the same.

Q. Sorry to come back to the professional golf tour. Right now, I think everything — years ago, people spoke about the WGCs — if 20 years from now, the majors — they have survived for more than a hundred years, and WGCs are catching up, maybe something new like this, obviously we can’t expect everything to be the way it is forever.
SHANE LOWRY: I genuinely think golf’s majors will always be the biggest thing like. I really do. I think they will always be the be all end and all for the players. That’s just the way it is. Like you said, they have stood the test of time for many years and I think they will for many more.

Obviously the WGCs have come on board and they have become quite big, and there’s obviously a lot of other big tournaments. But at the end of the day, if you win a major, you’ve hit a different level than you were at. Yeah, I don’t think that will ever change.

STEVE TODD: Shane, thanks for joining us.

January 29, 2020

King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia

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