Shane Lowry, British Open Champion 2018. I found myself rooting for him as many others did in his quest to win the Open Championship in his home country of Ireland. Lowry had a four-shot lead going into the final round after shooting a 63 in the third round that broke the 54-hole scoring record at the British Open.
But how was Lowry going to handle the nerves and expectations going into the final round and during the final round? Shane Lowery had a four-shot lead in the final round of the 2016 U. S. Open. He did not win the tournament. Last year in 2018 Lowry sat in a parking lot and cried after missing the cut in the British Open for the fourth consecutive year. How could he overcome the memory of 2016, regain his confidence from missing the cut the last four years, and handle the weight of the high expectations and excitement of his countrymen to win the 2018 British Open?
During the final round, Lowry kept telling his caddie he was nervous and scared, worried that he would ruin a storybook ending to the first British Open in Northern Ireland in 68 years. “I suppose I didn’t even know going out this morning if I was good enough to win a major,” Lowry said (Columbia Daily Tribune; July 22, 2019). But he found out he was more than good enough to win a major.
Here are some things that might begin to explain how Shane Lowry’s impressive accomplishment came to be:
Confidence – Lowry said the U. S. Open loss in 2016 actually gave him confidence going forward that he could compete with the best golfers in the world. And during the 2019 season, Lowry has been in contention in many tournaments and he said he was feeling very comfortable about it. This is critical – becoming comfortable with being a contender. Lowry felt the more familiar you get with being in contention, the easier it becomes when it happens again. Furthermore, Lowry was able to manage his self-doubts. He rose above them by reminding himself of his capabilities, a trust in how he hit the ball, go out and play.
Balance in his life – Lowry has stated he has certain things in his life that are different from 2016. He has a family now. Golf is still very important to him but he also has other things that are important to him as well. I heard the same thing from Boston Red Sox Manager, Alex Cora, before the 2019 baseball season. He spoke about how important it is to have balance in your life to keep things in perspective. For many people this is easier said than done, but it is important for sanity.
Present focus – Lowry maintained an in-the-moment focus during the final round. “He was great at keeping me in the moment,” Lowry said of his caddie (Columbia Tribune, July 22, 2019). With so much at stake it would be a challenge to stay present-focused on the next shot and the task at hand. But that’s exactly what Shane Lowry was able to do on his way to this Irishman winning the 2019 British Open Championship in Ireland.