In addition to the great golf from start to finish, Shane Lowry was consistently candid all weekend at Royal Portrush. There was no hiding how nervous or scared he was about the position he was in chasing the British Open and a career-defining moment.
Lowry was not the athlete telling you it was just another game or he was just taking it one day at a time or that he wasn’t thinking about the trophy. Quite the opposite. Aside from the world-class golf and opportunity to win a major sporting championship, the quotes from Lowry were vulnerable and in a small way, relatable.
This may be how you feel before a massive test or opportunity or day you know will be life-changing.
- “I’ll go to bed thinking about holding the Claret Jug tomorrow evening. It’s only natural, isn’t it? We’re human. We’re not robots. We can’t not think about things. And when you try not to think about something you end up thinking about it more, so you might as well talk about it. So we talk about stuff. Talk about everything.”
- “I got home late last night and I tried to go to sleep and I couldn’t. This morning I was awake early and I went for a walk with my coach, and we just had a bit of a chat, and I told him I was so scared of messing it up. I’d say I was more scared than actually having doubt in my head.”
- “I sat in the car park in Carnoustie on Thursday, almost a year ago right to this week, and I cried. I didn’t — golf wasn’t my friend at the time. It was something that become very stressful and it was weighing on me and I just didn’t like doing it.”
- “I kept on telling [caddie Bo Martin] how nervous I was, how scared I was, how much I didn’t want to mess it up.”
- “I suppose I didn’t even know going out this morning if I was good enough ...”
If you’re the kind of person who is supremely confident and thinks you will succeed or win or get it done or pass every single time without a hint of doubt or nervousness, congrats. As for the rest of us, myself included, I loved hearing this from the person playing the best golf in the world last week. He’d lost a four-shot lead before on a Sunday at a major and there was real fear there about if he could close on this Sunday.
And then when he trudged through the 18 holes of doubt and anxiety to win the Claret Jug, he partied his ass off with the people he loves and helped get him there. Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner tracked Lowry and his people until their final moments at Royal Portrush on Sunday night. It’s a great read (go there now) and ends with Lowry screaming in joy out the window of his SUV as they peeled off into the night.
Where were they headed? Someone from Lowry’s group told Lavner, “We’re driving down to Dublin and we’re going to f---ing party.” We now have a snippet of said party and it’s a perfect clip of Lowry unshackled from all the doubt that was there the in the morning.
Lowry is a world-class golfer but he’s not Rory McIlroy or Brooks Koepka or Jordan Spieth. John Huggan of Golf Digest relayed a great story (go read it right now too) of legendary golf coach Pete Cowen coming to Ireland for a consult on the junior boys talents. The Irish golf operation considered it basically a trip to confirm that they had a stud in McIlroy. Cowen, however, noticed someone else in the background. “Rory’s going to be great.” he said. “But there’s another good one out there. The little fat lad with the glasses.”
Lowry owned the crowd all weekend and seems to be admired by his fellow pros and the press that interacted with him both this week and in the past. But even with his Claret Jug, Lowry is not some superstar that will be on the cover of every brand campaign or magazine. He’s probably not one of the talents that you’re going to see contending a multiple majors every summer.
That’s what makes the clip of the party so satisfying. There are almost always drinks and songs with the Claret Jug winner the Sunday night of The Open. And you always smile watching it or reading about it. With Lowry, I smiled more because I knew I was watching a a jubilant person who’d shared just how terrified he’d been all day.