Shane Lowry looking forward to return to Cork
By Niall O’Shea
Shane Lowry winning the Lee Valley Senior Scratch Cup in 2009
Former Irish Open Champion Shane Lowry is looking forward to returning to Cork next month as Fota Island plays host to the Irish Open. Lowry won on his last two occasions playing competitive golf in Cork. In 2007 he won the Irish Close at Cork Golf Club, beating local hope Niall Turner. In 2009 he won the Lee Valley Senior Scratch Cup, the first year it had been expanded to a 54 hole competition. The Lee Valley was Lowry’s final won as an amateur in an amateur competition.
Speaking at the official launch of the Irish Open, Lowry recalled his successes in Cork; “I have great memories from Cork, the Irish Close was my first major win as an amateur, and then I won the Lee Valley Scratch Cup just a few weeks before the Irish Open in Baltray. If I can make it a trio of wins in Cork I’d be happy enough” Lowry used his visit to Cork on Sunday to get in another practice round at Fota Island. It was the third time he’s played the course in the past few weeks and he had the benefit of using new tee boxes in play. Lowry was one of the first to see the new signature tee box on the 6th hole. Instead of playing from the back of the 5th green, golfers will now face a 200 yard carry as they play over the estuary into the raised green. While many club golfers shudder at the thought of a long carry over water, it doesn’t faze the Offaly man; “It’s certainly different, you’re hitting over a wall so you can’t see where the ball is landing. The fairway is a lot wider when you get up there than it looks from the tee, so there is a lot of room up there”. The yardage is 364 yards from the tee to the middle of the green, even from the front it’s 310 so it’s not really driveable. I could see a lot of players taking driver, especially to a front flag. The bunkers won’t be too bad for a front flag.
Cork’s club golfers have another chance to play in the Irish Open Pro-Am. Fota, in association with the Irish Examiner are running a club qualifier competition which see the winning club take part in the Pro-Am. Clubs must select one player from Category 1, Category 2 and Category 3, and many clubs have already held their qualifying competition. Fota’s Denis Buckley, is delighted with the take up so far; “We’ve had lots of interest from clubs, and there’s still time to get your club registered. Any club interested should contact Clodagh Kelleher on 021 4883700. The closing date is this Friday 16th and the qualifier takes place on Monday 26th May.”
With tickets still on sale at reduced prices, fans of golf and sport in general have no excuse not to see a star studded field descend on Fota in June. Major champions Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke along with Lowry and European Ryder Cup captain, Paul McGinley will form part of an elite home challenge and the Irish contingent is expected to be on top form and hungry to add to its four Irish Championship titles on home turf since 1975. The Irish Open offers great value with advance tickets priced at €30 for an Adult Day Ticket (€35 at gate) and €70 for Adult Season Tickets (€80 at gate). Under 16s are free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Tickets and further information is available from www.irishopen.ie