Lowry says Masters win would equal Claret Jug triumph

Augusta (United States) (AFP) –


Reigning British Open champion Shane Lowry says becoming the first Irishman to win the Masters is one of the few things that could match the thrill of capturing the Claret Jug on Irish soil.

The 33-year-old captured last year's Open at Royal Portrush but hasn't had the chance to defend the crown yet with this year's event cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic that also delayed the Masters from April to November.

"It's something that I feel very privileged to have been able to achieve in my life," Lowry said.

"To get the opportunity to let alone play the Open Championship in Ireland but to go on and win it in the style I did, to be able to enjoy that walk down 17 and 18, I do look back on it with so many fond memories and kind of pinch myself."

World number 27 Lowry struggled to ponder what might rival that feeling but said winning at Augusta would do it.

"If I could ever top Portrush? I'll struggle, but if I have a chance, it will be around here," Lowry said.

"To be the first Irishman to ever wear the green jacket would be pretty special. That's probably one of the only things that could top it.

"I achieved something very special last year. I probably won't ever top that, but if it is, it will maybe be around here. To wear a green jacket would be just very special."

While Lowry isn't pushing himself as a favorite this week, he does warn that if he is in the hunt on Sunday, beware.

"I'm not going to talk myself up too much. I'm never really one to do that," Lowry said.

"I just go about my business the way I always do and if I give myself a chance on Sunday, look, I know I can pull something like this off."

- McIlroy meltdown -

Ireland's Padraig Harrington and Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy have won multiple majors but never taken the green jacket. It's the only hole in McIlroy's career Grand Slam resume after a final-round meltdown in 2011 when he blew a four-stroke lead in spectacular fashion.

And 1950s and 1960s Irish hero Christy O'Connor Sr. never played in the Masters, leaving the green jacket dream for a later generation.

"Padraig had a chance one year and obviously Rory in 2011," Lowry said. "Back in the day, Christy Sr. didn't come over and play because it was too hard to get over. Maybe he would have had a good chance.

"Only one Irishman had won a major up until 2007, Fred Daly. So we've punched above our weight over the last 12, 13 years, but before that we didn't really.

"You never know. Hopefully this year is our time."

Lowry has three missed cuts and a share of 39th in 2016 in his prior Masters appearances.

"I do feel like my game is in a good place coming back to Augusta," he said. "Obviously it's my favorite place in the world to play golf without a doubt, but it's somewhere I've never had much success.

"I don't think I've ever shot too many great rounds around here. I'm hoping the time of year kind of changes my luck around here."