Many Irish golf fans can easily recall the gutsy performance of their 22-year-old countryman, Shane Lowry, at the 2009 Irish Open. Although an amateur, the young lad outplayed the best pros in Europe and won after a three-hole playoff with Robert Rock.He turned pro not long after, but more success came slowly. His first PGA Tour victory was at the 2015 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and he contended at the U.S. Open last June, holding a four-shot lead on Sunday before losing by three to Dustin Johnson. Lowry navigated the tight Oakmont fairways that week by often driving it 250 yards with his trusty 2-iron. Here you can see how he handles that club, with analysis from teaching pro Neil Manchip, whose full-time job is the National Coach of the Golfing Union of Ireland.Lowry's swing is fluid and relaxed, but he has a competitive fire "bred into him by his father and uncles, who competed on the Offaly Gaelic football team," Manchip says. "In 1982, they defeated defending four-time champion Kerry." In other words, the Lowrys are tough.
Lowry's swing is fluid and relaxed, but he has a competitive fire "bred into him by his father and uncles, who competed on the Offaly Gaelic football team." – Neil Manchip
SETTING THE TABLE
When you're hitting a long iron, even from a tee box, ball position is very important to hit it solid, says Shane Lowry's coach, Neil Manchip. "Shane plays it just left of center in his stance, where the club bottoms out," he says. "I like his neutral grip, relaxed arms and overall body balance."
MOVING IN HARMONY
Starting back, Lowry is relaxed, letting himself turn with the clubhead. "There's nothing rigid, which is like Sam Snead's swing," Manchip says. Halfway back, his right arm is slightly higher than his left, and he cocks his wrists early. "His arms and body are relaxed.They're responding to the clubhead's weight."
PREPARED TO FIRE
At the top, the club is set nearly perfect, Manchip says. The face is slightly open, which is reminiscent of how he swings his wedges around the greens. "And what a fantastic, big shoulder turn," Manchip adds. "His back is facing the target." Lowry says his swing thought is to pause at this moment.
That slight pause allows him to start down with with the lower body first, which keeps everything in sync, Manchip says. Also note Lowry's head and right arm. "His eyes are looking well behind the ball, and his right elbow is below his left, showing he's swinging from the inside with tremendous lag," Manchip says.
A SOLID PUNCH
Lowry's impact position resembles a great player from the past—Jack Nicklaus, Manchip says. His head has not drifted or rotated toward the target. The left arm is straight, and the right wrist is bent. "It's like he's punching somebody," Manchip says. "The shaft angle shows how he is putting pressure on the ball."
"Past impact, the weight of the club is moving the arms," Manchip says. "Now his left arm is bent and his right arm is straight, showing a free release."
The finish is created by momentum, Manchip adds. "His hips have really turned open, his weight is on the outside of his left foot, and he's balanced, just the way he started."