Open champion Shane Lowry awarded lifetime European Tour membership

Shane Lowry speaks to the media at Wentworth
Shane Lowry speaks to the media at Wentworth

Open champion Shane Lowry has been awarded lifetime membership to the European Tour, two months on from his heroics at Portrush.

Lowry produced a dazzling display to become a major winner in July, defying terrible conditions in the final round to beat Tommy Fleetwood by six shots and lift the Claret Jug.

After celebrating at length in Ireland before two low-key starts on the PGA Tour, Lowry is preparing to make his return home in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, a course he knows well.

He'll tee off on Thursday alongside fellow Open winners Francesco Molinari and Rory McIlroy, and he'll do so as the 56th person to be awarded Honourary Life Membership of the European Tour.

"It is pretty cool to receive this award," said the 32-year-old, who was runner-up to McIlroy here in 2014.

"When you start playing golf when you're a kid you don't know how good you can be, or even when you start playing as a pro. I didn't know that I would get to this day so it's pretty cool.

"I've obviously joined a nice list of names, which is pretty good as well. My heart lies with The European Tour. I'll always be a member. I love coming back and I love playing in events like this. So it's an extreme privilege to receive this."

Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour, said: "Shane’s incredible victory at Royal Portrush will be remembered as one of the iconic performances in the Championship’s storied history.

"Shane is a terrific character and I think you when you look at the remarkable reception he enjoyed across the island of Ireland in the week following his win, in addition to the warmth and praise on social media globally, that shows you how popular he is in the game.

"He is also a wonderful ambassador for the European Tour, and is therefore a truly worthy recipient of this honour."

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Lowry returns to the European Tour eager to get back into action, with Ryder Cup points now on the table and a Race to Dubai lead to defend.

"I've played a couple of events in the States since the Open and coming back here this week it's kind of new again where everybody is coming up and congratulating me," said Lowry.

"The first time I was announced as Champion Golfer of the Year was pretty cool. It's a lovely title to have. But to be honest it has sunk in and I'm quite eager to get on with my golf and I'm looking forward to trying to achieve different goals I have the rest of the year.

"The Race to Dubai is the obvious one. I'm number one and I want to stay there, but I'm going to have to play some good golf and I'm going to have to maybe win again.

"But I'm just going to go out like I've been doing all year, day after day and try and shoot as good a score as I can and see where it leaves me the at the end of it. First and foremost I want to win the Race to Dubai at the end of the year."

Shane Lowry celebrates winning the Open at Royal Portrush
Shane Lowry celebrates winning the Open at Royal Portrush

Wentworth could be the ideal venue for Lowry to get the win he feels he needs, the Irishman having recorded five top-15 finishes in his last seven starts at European Tour headquarters.

"I love it here," he added. "I think this is one of my favourite events in the world. Just the area itself around Wentworth, Ascot, Sunningdale, it's just a lovely place to be.

"The golf course I've always really liked, even when it used to get a lot of bad press before. Even when they first made the changes back in 2010, I actually really liked it and I just thought it was quite a difficult golf course and I just loved it.

"There's probably going to be a little bit of rustiness out there. I played today and I played some golf last week. I feel like I'm playing okay.

"Mentally I'm in a good place and I just feel like I can go out and play my own game and see what score I shoot. Like I said, I like it around here, I've shot some good scores, so hopefully I can bring back some good memories."

Lowry admits his life has changed considerably since his emotional victory at Portrush but feels he has handled the extra attention pretty well so far.

"I'm fairly recognisable with my beard I think but I do my normal things, I drop Iris to school and pick her up and we go to the playground and we go for a coffee," Lowry added.

"I do get stopped a little bit more but I bring her with me so I don't have to stop and talk because she's always running around! I think I've taken it in my stride pretty well and going forward we'll see what it's like."

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