Lowry resists joining jet set for pro debut

While Sergio Garcia was in the media centre here yesterday pouring out his heart regarding his recent split from Greg Norman's daughter (apparently Morgan-Leigh dumped him), Shane Lowry was out on the course preparing for a first date.

This afternoon the Irishman will make his professional debut in the European Open and it is fair to say that since his incredible, remarkable, stunning (insert hyperbolic adjective here) victory in the Irish Open 11 days ago, the golfing world has been waiting to see how the 22-year-old fares when there is money on it. If his demeanour in Kent over the last two days is a reliable indicator, then Lowry will not be taking long to make up the £445,000 he famously lost out on because of his amateur status in Baltray.

Lowry has certainly not swaggered into the swanky clubhouse here as if he owns the place, or, indeed, as if he could afford to own the place. For starters he decided to take the EasyJet rather than the private jet route over from Dublin on Tuesday. Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell offered him a lift on their chartered Gulfstream, but Lowry wisely said thanks, but no thanks. "I ask you? What would it have looked like if I arrived at my first pro event in a private jet," said Lowry yesterday. "The media would have had a field day."

In truth, the media would have been delighted of the colour, but then there is more than enough of that precious commodity when it comes to the wonderfully unreconstructed chubby lad from Co Offaly. Take this exchange when asked about the congratulations he has received since prevailing in his very first Tour event.

"Well, I had a phone call from the President of Ireland which was nice?"

"Shane, when Mary McAleese said her name did you think it was a wind-up?

"Er, no. Because it came up as a missed call and I had to ring her office back?"

"Shane, what number comes up when you get a missed call from a president?"

"Just a number. I can't remember it?"

If Lowry seemed non-plussed then that is probably because he was. It was in direct contrast to his reaction concerning the missed calls off one Padraig Harrington. "Now, I did think that was a wind-up," admitted Lowry. "That's why I didn't reply at first. I got back to him when I believed it." When he did, the triple major-winner imparted the same advice he gives to all rookies. "Don't alter your routine just because you're a pro. Just remember that your ball doesn't know the prize fund."

So instead of taking the well-trodden path to the practice ground and hitting Titleists until his glove perished, Lowry ran to the first tee. In the frenzy following the Irish Open Lowry only managed to play 12 holes and arrived here on Tuesday desperate to dissect a fairway and uproot a flagstick. "It's the way I've been since I started playing golf," he said. "If I have a couple of hours spare in the evening I'd rather play nine holes than hit balls. I don't feel like I have to change the way I am, just because I'm out here on Tour.

"I'll warm up for my first round same as always. I'll go down to the range for 20 minutes, pick up whatever club my hand falls on and hit it."

What Garcia would give for such a laid-back attitude. Since the ending of his relationship two months ago, each and every little thing has seemed a trial to the Spaniard. "It hurt," said the 29-year-old, recalling the moment in Miami when Ms Norman told him it was over. "It was probably the first time I have really been in love. It took me a while to get over it."

The truth of that is born out on his recent result sheets. In his last five tournaments he has finished 31st, 77th, 38th (at the Masters), missed the cut and 22nd. Yet Garcia says the heartbreak is now behind him. "I'm looking forward to getting back into it and playing the way I know I can," he said. "I definitely have more enthusiasm than I did a month ago."

12

Holes Shane Lowry was able to play in the frenzied week following his win at the Irish Open.

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