Published: 06:00, 09 July 2021
Ireland’s Shane Lowry is excited to defend his title at Royal St George’s next week.
The 34-year-old won The Open at Royal Portrush in 2019, the first major of his career.
“It's obviously going to be a new experience for me because I've never got to defend a major championship before, and it's going to be really exciting,” said Lowry.
“I'm looking forward to getting there, it feels like it's a long time since Portrush.
“Everyone is just looking forward to going back and playing The Open Championship again, because as we all know it's one of our greatest championships, if not the greatest.
“So just to get back there and play that will be great.”
Lowry has thrived on the atmosphere at major tournaments in recent years, amassing two top-10 finishes at the PGA Championship along with back-to-back top-25 placings at the US Masters.
He was 12th at The Open in 2018 before winning by six strokes over Tommy Fleetwood 12 months later.
“I don't know what it is, but I just love major championships. I just love big weeks. I love the atmosphere,” said Lowry.
“I feel that over the last couple of years where I arrive at those big events, I manage to find some sort of an ‘A’ game or something towards my best game anyway.
“To be honest, last year when we played the PGA and the US Open and the Masters with no crowds I felt like I struggled. I felt like it was hard to get yourself to that level of intensity that you really wanted to be at.
“So, it was nice to have that back at the Masters somewhat this year, and then the PGA was really cool to have the crowds back. It's been an incredibly difficult kind of 14 months for everyone, and I think sport does have a huge part to play in everyone's well-being and health.
“I feel like I'm maturing as a golfer, as a person. When I get to those big weeks I kind of know what's going to happen. I know you're going to have ups and downs. You're going to have difficult times on the course and you're going to have good runs, and when you're having good runs you need to take advantage of that.”
Lowry was aiming to get to Royal St George’s in good time to ensure he can get familiar with a course that he’s only played once previously.
He recalled: “I played the Amateur Championship in 2006 there and I shot 81 in the one round that I played around there, and I haven't been back since.
“I'm looking forward to it. Obviously, I watched Darren Clarke win his Open there in 2011, and I know it's one of the trickiest venues we have, especially if you get a good UK summer.
“It's so far south that it can get firm and fast and play like proper links golf. So it'll be a great test. Just the whole experience of going there as defending champion, I'm really looking forward to it.”
With last year’s championship postponed, Lowry has held the title for two years.
It’s meant a bonus year with the Claret Jug in his possession, an iconic trophy in world sport – and one that has been spotted across the globe as part of the Irishman’s luggage.
Lowry said: “I had the Claret Jug with me at the Race to Dubai at the end of 2019 and I was wheeling it through the hotel, and this guy was there and he stopped me, and he's like ‘Is that the Claret Jug?’
“Next thing, he begged me to see it, so I opened up the box and I showed him and he held the Claret Jug and he started to cry because he was holding the Claret Jug. That's what that trophy actually means to people that love their golf.
“Just to have it in my possession for that length of time and being able to share it with all my friends and family and other people has been just incredible.
"Obviously, I've got my replica now as well and I'll have that forever more, but it was a sad time giving it back.
"Hopefully I get it back at some stage, whether it be St George's this year or maybe another time down the road.”
There’s been the traditional drinking from the Claret Jug, and Lowry admitted he’s shared stories of a dent or two in the famous trophy with 2015 winner Zach Johnson.
“We had an amazing time with it,” beamed Lowry. “I did put a few drinks in it but not that much. We filled it a couple of times afterwards, and then we actually had a nice dinner with all my team that Christmas that we drink some nice wine out of it.
“It has been sent back to be straightened once, yes. We actually noticed going through the airport, and I noticed on the airport scanner that it had a little bit of a bend in it. It's not just me. I did talk to Zach Johnson about this and he told me that he bent it, as well, so it's not only me.”