The Open: Shane Lowry leads at Portrush after pep-talk from coach
By Keith Jackson at Royal Portrush
Last Updated: 18/07/19 10:01pm
Shane Lowry revealed a long chat with his coach helped restore his confidence and inspire him to set the early first-round pace at The 148th Open.
Lowry admitted he was feeling "uneasy" about his game heading to Royal Portrush, but some words of wisdom from coach Neil Manchip earlier in the week helped the Irishman tee up in a more positive frame of mind.
The 32-year-old still retained minor doubts on the first tee, but he split the fairway with his opening three-iron and, after starting with two solid pars, he picked up birdies at the third and fifth before adding two in a row either side of the turn.
He suffered his only setback at the 11th but Lowry got the shot straight back at 12 and parred the last six holes to return a four-under 67, which left him one behind early pacesetter JB Holmes at the end of the day.
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"I don't feel like practice went unbelievably well this week, I felt a little bit uncomfortable," said Lowry. "So I went to coffee with Neil down at the Bushmills Inn, found a little quiet room, and we had a great chat for about 40 minutes.
"I left that room full of confidence and ready to go. So we just put everything out in the open, everything out on the table, what could happen, what might happen.
"To be honest, I really was feeling a bit uneasy about this week, I'm not going to lie. It was just a great chat. Look, obviously it would be great to do well this week and great to contend, but it's not the end of the world if it doesn't happen.
"I was quite anxious going out there this morning. The wind was up early, but the first few holes played okay, downwind, and I got off to a nice solid start. And I was off and running and I was enjoying myself. And I played some good golf.
"I missed a couple of chances coming in. But I got a great break, and a good up and down on 16, great break on 17, and managed to make par. I'm fairly happy with four under. It's a great score on that course and I'll take it any day."
Lowry also fed off the goodwill and support from the sell-out crowd at Royal Portrush, and he is hopeful of giving them plenty more to cheer over the next three days.
"I thoroughly enjoyed today," he added. "The crowds are unbelievable and to be cheered on every tee box, and every green, is such a special feeling. I tried to enjoy that as much as I can while I was doing my work and then getting down to business.
"It's going to be an exciting few days ahead. I hope I can give them something to cheer about on Sunday afternoon."