Rory McIlroy is delighted Shane Lowry has not made it to Memphis this week as he wants his friend to carry on enjoying his Open triumph.
Ireland’s newest major champion announced he would not make it to the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational, which begins on Thursday.
And McIlroy, a long-time friend of the 32-year-old, has enjoyed seeing footage of Lowry touring Ireland and soaking in acclaim for his feat at Royal Portrush.
Lowry was feted in his hometown of Clara on Tuesday, celebrating with locals after his resounding victory over the border in Northern Ireland, and McIlroy predicted the golfer has secured “national hero” status.
“He text me on Friday night and gave me a couple of words of encouragement and said, ‘I’ll see you in Memphis’,” said McIlroy, who missed the cut by a single shot.
“And I said, ‘Well, I hope I don’t see you in Memphis because hopefully you’re still drinking out of the Claret Jug’ and that obviously came to fruition, so that was nice.
“I text him straight after [his victory] and I sort of said to him, ‘It’s going to change your life’. You saw when he went to his hometown and the amount of people that came out to see him. It’s a life-changer. Especially doing it there at Portrush, he’s going to be a national hero for the rest of his life.
“I said to him, ‘We’re going to go out for dinner in New York during the Northern Trust [in August]. We’ll have some celebratory drinks. I’m so happy for him. It’s always great to see friends do so well.
“With Shane winning, it was a fairy tale ending. It was a great showcase for our country and from what I’m hearing hopefully The Open will go back to Portrush in hopefully the next eight to 10 years.”
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 21, 2019
McIlroy, who starts the week at number three in the FedEx Cup standings and could go top with victory, is determined he will not be rusty on his long-awaited return to Memphis.
“It’s been seven years since I played here. I was tied for the lead on the last tee box and hit one into the water and that put a halt to my chances,” he recalled.
“It’s good to be here. I’m looking forward to the week. It’s a bit of a contrast considering the type of golf we’ve had to play the last two weeks back over in the UK.
“I’ve spent the last three days moving into a new house, so I didn’t get much rest. I’ve been unpacking boxes – my wife did most of it. I haven’t touched a club since Friday, so it was nice to get back out there today and play a little bit.”