Shane Lowry: Race to Dubai win would cap an incredible year
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 09/10/19 4:35pm
Shane Lowry insists he is not putting himself under extra pressure to win the Race to Dubai and cap what has already been the most memorable season of his career.
Lowry began 2019 with his first Rolex Series success in Abu Dhabi, but he surpassed that achievement when he stormed to his maiden major title in front of his home fans at Royal Portrush, winning The Open by six shots.
The Irishman's stellar season has ensured he is firmly in contention to end the year as European No 1 for the first time, and he will look to regain the lead at the top of the Race to Dubai standings at the Italian Open having been overtaken by Spanish Open champion Jon Rahm last week.
"Obviously I'd love to pass Jon this week, but ultimately, it's just going to matter who is No 1 at the end of November," said Lowry. "I've got plenty of events left, I feel like my game is good enough and I feel like I can give it a good go. I'm very excited about it, and it would be a great end to what has already been a great year for me.
"If I win the Race to Dubai, it will be great. If I don't, I'm not going to sit at home and cry about it, but obviously it would be a huge thing for me to achieve. So I'm going to give it my best every day to shoot the best scores I can to, hopefully, win that trophy.
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"Ultimately, it's probably going to come down to the last couple of events. I'm just going to keep doing what I've been doing all year. It's very exciting that I'm there and I'm looking forward to the challenge.
"Obviously I want to keep trying to pick up some Ryder Cup points and keep challenging myself every day to shoot the best scores I can, and just kind of keep playing my golf, keep doing what I've been doing all year, and to win the Race to Dubai, that would kind of top off what has already been an incredible year.
Lowry will play the opening two rounds in Rome with home favourite Francesco Molinari, the man he replaced as Open champion, and the Italian is bidding for his third win on home soil after narrowly missing out on the hat-trick last May.
Molinari still has fresh and fond memories of claiming his maiden European Tour victory at Castello di Tolcinasco in 2006, and he delighted the Milan fans again three years ago when he pipped Danny Willett to the title by a single stroke.
"I think the first win on Tour, I never knew it was coming and, obviously at home, I think no one really expected me to win at the beginning of the week," he said. "You could almost feel the expectations growing through the week, and it was just an amazing relief on the 18th green, seeing all the people there celebrating, lots of friends and families.
"I couldn't have asked for a better first win on Tour, but the second one was different. Many, many years later, and obviously different circumstances and different expectations from the start. I had a pretty solid season that year, but I had not won in a few years.
"In a home event, if you start well, you can feel the vibe changing and people kind of expecting you to win and to bring the trophy home. Yeah, I just remember the back nine on Sunday, really not playing my best golf, but just grinding hard and again, huge relief on the 18th green."