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Time to be selfish Shane!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Shane Lowry’s

Tony spoke to former Reuters golf correspondent Tony Jimenez to look back at Shane Lowry’s victory at The Open:

“It was a magnificent performance by Shane to win by six shots at Royal Portrush on Sunday and the next big thing to happen to him came when his management team immediately pulled him out of this week’s St Jude Invitational in Memphis.

That was such an intelligent and sensible thing to do. The people in Memphis won’t be happy about it but it’s not Shane’s problem to worry about that.

It’s no different to years ago when the great Jack Nicklaus was disliked by the organisers of the Greater Greensboro event in North Carolina. Jack always refused to play in that tournament because it was held the week before the Masters and he would be busy preparing himself for Augusta.

As a professional, you sometimes have to be selfish because it’s your job to try and perform to the best of your ability every time you go out to play. You’ve got to be ready. You can’t fudge it and what Shane went through last week was, from a mental viewpoint, extreme to say the least.

He is likely to need at least one week to come down to earth again after experiencing such a great high, and then probably another week to get his mojo back to the point where he feels he’s hungry again to want to go out and prove himself again.

That’s how Jack felt. Every Major was the same for him. He always needed the following week to come back down to earth. Those weeks at a big championship are so taxing to the mind and body that you need time to adjust and get hungry for competition again.

I’m not sure some people fully appreciate that situation but it’s a simple, straightforward fact that golfers are not machines and can’t be expected to operate like machines.

Danny Willett was spot on when he said that if he had to give Shane any advice, it would be to take plenty of time off now. I can fully appreciate where he’s coming from because my management team sent me straight off to America after I won The Open in 1969 and I promptly missed four cuts in a row.

A similar thing happened to Willett. He lost his game for a couple of years because he was running here, there and everywhere after he won the Masters in 2016. When you win a big, significant event you need to take some time off to recover because it takes so much out of you.

Justin Rose said last week that the powers-that-be are starting to put money before Majors. At first glance, when they rearranged the golfing calendar to have the Majors in four consecutive months in the season, it looked like they were focusing on the ‘Big Four’ events.

However, if you look at the bigger picture, it is clear the PGA Tour were leaving the way clear for the FedExCup. I’ve never thought those playoffs fitted properly into the schedule. It seemed like they wanted golf to emulate American Football, with the field getting reduced tournament by tournament, but golf is not at all like American Football.

Football is different because you are running around and you also have the support of your team. It’s a more physical sport. Golf is a different animal altogether. But that’s not the focus for the PGA Tour, or indeed FedEx, who are looking for as much publicity as possible.

For the players, though, it’s a serious concern. I think it’s a big mistake to think golf and football have anything in common, other than they are both sports. The PGA Tour seem to be very happy with the playoffs and one lucky player is going to pick up more than $10 million at the end of it.

But I’m not sure how much more money these multi-millionaire players really need and I agree with Justin that their focus is always on the Majors. Those are the events they want to win. They are the Holy Grail.

Many American players have gone into the Ryder Cup in recent years looking quite tired and that’s because the competition comes straight after the playoffs.

They don’t always go into the Ryder Cup fully prepared but the popularity of that event has grown to the point where it’s a huge week and the guys should be going into it fresh and raring to go.”