Golf

Golfer, singer, winner, dad: Seven things you might not know about Shane Lowry

Shane Lowry is a local hero on a global stage, a grounded golf star who hasn't let it all go to his head, but did you know he can sing too? Find out more about him here...

By Ken Browne ·

Shane Lowry has been surprising people in the game of golf for a long time now.

In 2007 he became the Irish Amateur Close Champion, then fired his first international warning flare in 2009 by winning the Irish Open in 2009 before he turned pro.

He was only the second Irish golfer after Padraig Harrington to win a home Open and suddenly everyone knew his name.

Fast forward ten years to Lowry's greatest moment on a golf course as he wins the 2019 Open Championship, shooting a new course record 63 on the way to his first Major, six shots ahead of Tommy Fleetwood.

And he won it in Portrush, Northern Ireland.

That same year Lowry made no secret that he couldn't wait to represent Ireland at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics:

"Everybody knows how patriotic and Irish I am," Lowry told the Irish Times in November 2019 - he even had his tickets booked to Japan before the Games were postponed because of Covid-19.

Will Shane Lowry play with Rory McIlroy at the Olympics?

Now his goal has been put back to summer 2021 and it's likely that Lowry will join Rory McIlroy in representing Ireland at the rescheduled Tokyo Games.

McIlroy chose to represent Ireland in Tokyo saying that he regretted not playing at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

With those two flying the flag for Ireland medal hopes would be high, they duelled against each other in the Irish amateur ranks, and would make a fearsome twosome in Tokyo, knowing what a medal would mean to fans back home.

And while Tiger Woods has had a big setback before the Games, it's sure to be a stacked field and an exciting battle in the Japanese capital.

But this Irish 1-2 of McIlroy/Lowry is a double-act years in the making.

Lowry's Open delight in Portrush contrasted with McIIroy's despair on his home course in the north where he holds the record round of 61, a horror quadruple-bogey eight on the opening hole meant it was over before it had even begun for Rory.

But despite all that he was full of congratulations for his friend after his stunning win.

Tokyo Olympics golf qualification

So how do golfers qualify for Tokyo 2020 in 2021?

It's all about the rankings.

The official world golf rankings are also the Olympic Golf Rankings and there are 60 places available in men's and women's golf.

The top-15 world-ranked players are eligible for the Olympics, with a max four players allowed from one country.

Outside the top 15 it's down to the world rankings again, with a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top-15.

The cut-off point is 21st June 2021.

Right now McIlroy is in the top ten and Lowry in the top 20, meaning that they would be Ireland's representatives in Tokyo.

And while there is still some time to go, most watchers expect these two stars to fly the Irish flag in Tokyo, carrying some great expectations with it.

Lowry is already a national hero at home and making an Olympic podium would be an iconic moment for him and for Irish sport, here are a few things that you might not have known about one of Offaly's most famous sons:

1. Lowry comes from Gaelic football royalty

While the name Shane Lowry sets golf fans and flags a-flutter across the world, he has a sporting heritage of a very different kind.

Kids across Ireland grow up dreaming of lifting the Sam Macguire Cup and the Liam McCarthy Cups - the All-Ireland trophies that the best Gaelic football and hurling teams on the island win every year.

The Gaelic games are amateur sports played at a professional level where you represent your family, your town, your county.

They dominate the Irish sporting scene and Shane Lowry's family from Ferbane has a proud tradition in football.

Shane's father Brendan and uncles Sean and Mick won the All-Ireland football championship with Offaly on the same team in 1982, it was a legendary final when they stopped a Kerry dynasty from winning five All Irelands in a row.

Offaly haven't won it since.

It's hardly a surprise then that a young Shane Lowry grew up playing Gaelic football.

2. Shane Lowry: Late starter, fast learner

What makes his story even more remarkable is that he didn't even start playing golf until he was 13, and just one year later he was playing off a 12 handicap.

His gift for the game becoming clearer with every swing, by the age of 15 he was already in single figures, building a swing and setting the foundations for a future career at the Esker Hills Golf Club in County Offaly.

And while Lowry's rise through the amateur ranks is now the stuff of legend, golf was present in the family too, his guiding light has always been his family.

His grandmother, who he's very close to, tells a story about the time his grandfather won the Mullingar Scratch Cup, a local amateur tournament.

When granny asked him to go out and get a bucket of turf for the fire he replied:

"You don't see Tiger Woods bringing in turf."

3. A winning mother and a viral granny

Family unity has been the bedrock of Lowry's support system, they've always backed Shane.

Literally in his mother's case, when he went to the Irish Open in 2009 his mother put a 50 Euro bet on her son to win at 250-1.

And he did.

While mammy was in the money, poor Shane had to watch as Robert Rock, who Lowry had beaten, accepted the €500,000 winner's cheque as he was the pro, outranking the young champ.

To get to where he is he's had to sacrifice and risk a lot, before the Irish Open he was broke, renting a small house with the electricity on a pay-to-use coin metre.

“That house was dark a lot of the time,” he remembered.

Lowry has always wanted to share his success with his family, and when he won The Open in 2019 he had no doubt about the first thing he wanted to do with the famous claret jug.

"Bring it home to show to my granny,” he said.

When he did bring it home, granny celebrated and her brilliant story telling made her an overnight viral star in Ireland.

4. He can sing too

But granny wasn't going to steal all the limellight from Shane, he lifted his voice along with the famous jug while celebrating his Open win too.

Joining in on this fine rendition of 'The Fields of Athenry' - a famous Irish song that echoes around football and rugby stadiums, along with every other sport that Irish people play.

Just when Irish people thought they couldn't love Lowry any more, he started singing.

5. Shane Lowry's wife and his biggest - and littlest - fan club

He met his wife Wendy Honner on a night out in 2012 and they were married in 2016 with Iris, their daughter joining the team in March 2017.

Wendy and Iris often travel with dad and support him on the road, and both Mr. and Mrs. Lowry are also involved in charity work, recently helping raise over 20,000 euros (Around $25,000) for the Temple Street Foundation - a children's charity and hospital in Ireland.

Iris got to watch dad win The Open in 2019 and celebrate with him.

Now she's his biggest - and littlest - fan club.

6. Shane Lowry: Ireland's flagbearer at Tokyo 2020?

While Ireland's flagbearer at the Olympic Opening Ceremony hasn't been chosen yet, Lowry is happy to throw his hat in the ring for the job.

“I wouldn’t say ‘no’," Lowry said to the Irish Times in that November 2019 interview.

"Everybody knows how patriotic and Irish I am but, look, there is obviously going to be other athletes there who will be putting their name forward I am sure.

"Wouldn’t it be an incredible honour for myself and my family to do something like that? So, yes.” If asked!"

7. When Shane and Rory won together

If McIlroy and Lowry do go on to represent Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics, it won't be the first time that they play together on the same team, or win together.

In July 2007 they travelled to the European Men's Amateur Team Championship in Western Gailes, Scotland as part of a talented young Irish team.

Despite finishing fourth on Days 1 and staying there to the semi-finals, the team managed to overcome England in the semi-finals before beating France comprehensively in the final, losing just one match of the five singles to take the title.

Irish fans will be hoping for more of the same from at the Tokyo Olympics.