Lowry hoping for Open roars |...


Lowry hoping for Open roars | "We're in the entertainment business"

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The reigning Champion Golfer Shane Lowry will be hoping to feed off the buzz of the crowd as he defends his title in England this week.

There will be up to 32-thousand spectators per day admitted into The Open at Royal St George's where there was an Irish winner - Darren Clarke in 2011 - the last time the event was held there.

Lowry has had to wait two years to defend the Claret Jug that he won at Royal Portrush, as the event was cancelled last year due to the pandemic.

Unlike last year, the Offaly native is in good form coming into Open Championship week and he feels the roars of appreciation around the course make a huge difference to his game.

"Playing in front of fans does it for me, not playing in front of fans doesn't do it for me and that's just the way it is," said Lowry after handing back the Claret Jug on Monday.

"I think I struggled last year coming out of lockdown. I was playing great, I never played as much golf in my life, and I was just stale when I got out there and couldn't get it going.

"I think even little things, if you're struggling to make a cut or if you're down the bottom of the field, having people out there on the golf course spurs you on a little bit.

"I said it at the Irish Open a couple of weeks ago, we're in the entertainment business. When I have a difficult shot, or when I'm stuck behind a tree, or if I have a tough up and down, I'm almost trying to show off a little bit.

"I feel like 2020 was a bit of a write-off for me. Obviously my form is pretty decent coming in this year and I'm pretty happy with that but I don't really look back at 2020 with anything to be honest. I've put it behind me and moved on and thankfully this year has been a little bit better."

Lowry's major form has been very good this year, with a fourth-place finish in the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island and he was 21st at the Masters in Augusta while he was 23rd at the Irish Open the weekend before last.

The Offaly native was also 6th at The Memorial in Ohio last month and 8th at the Players Championship and 9th at the RBC Heritage in March and April respectively and he is confident that this week he can at least perform well enough to make a fist of defending his title.

"I hope that I can be competitive. I’d like to put up a good defence of my trophy and I’d give anything to have a chance to win come the weekend. I’m out there planning for that over the next few days, and we’ll see how it goes," said Lowry.

"I’ve defended tournaments before, but I’ve never come and defended a tournament of this magnitude. But at the end of the day it’s another golf tournament, it’s another major.

"I’ve got a lot more on my mind, a lot more to play for than just defending the trophy. I’ll be happy to get that first tee shot away, and if you’ve seen the rough down the first hole, I’ll be even happier if it’s on the fairway."

Meanwhile, 2015 Open champion Zach Johnson has been forced to withdraw from this week’s tournament after the American tested positive for COVID-19.

South Africa’s Louis de Jager will also this week's rounds at Royal St George's after contracting the virus while Dylan Frittelli and England's Sam Horsfield will replace the pair in the field.

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