Former Open champion Shane Lowry has welcomed the sense of “comfort” given by the strengthening of ties between the PGA Tour and DP World Tour.
In their latest response to the threat posed by the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series, the two circuits announced the next phase of their strategic alliance, which was signed in November 2020.
The aim is to counter what Rory McIlroy describes as the “boatloads of cash” offered by LIV Golf which have succeeded in attracting the likes of Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed to the 54-hole, 48-man events, resulting in their suspension from the PGA Tour.
From 2023 the top 10 finishers on the DP World Tour rankings not already exempt will gain PGA Tour cards, with the US circuit increasing its stake in European Tour Productions from 15 to 40 per cent and that money used to guarantee increases in DP World Tour purses for the next five years.
“As a DP World Tour member and PGA Tour member it creates a nice sense of comfort there that the two tours are working together and that world golf is strong going forward,” Lowry said.
“There’s been a lot of uncertainty in golf over the last while and I feel this is great for DP World Tour members. With the guaranteed prize funds for the next few years people can plan their seasons and go out there and play for nice money every week, which is what you want to do as a professional golfer.”
Lowry has made it clear he is not interested in joining the breakaway circuit and is contesting this week’s Horizon Irish Open while the second LIV event takes place in Portland.
The world number 24 is one of five top-50 players in the field at Mount Juliet compared to eight appearing at Pumpkin Ridge and acknowledges the £4.9million event could benefit from a change in date to ensure an even stronger field.
“We have a few of the top players in the world, myself and Seamus (Power), and we have Paddy (Harrington) coming back from winning the (Senior) US Open, which is great, but we would like to have a stronger field here, there’s no doubt about that,” Lowry added in his pre-tournament press conference.
“Personally, I do feel like the date could be looked at. I’ve talked about it with the Tour every year, and we’d love to have the date where we can guarantee Rory (McIlroy) coming back and playing here every year, what works for his schedule.
“Because at the end of the day, we do need to acknowledge what he’s done for the tournament and what he needs to do to get ready to play his majors because that’s what it’s all about for him at the moment.”
Lowry won the Irish Open as an amateur in 2009 and is relishing the chance of a second victory on the back of his first missed cut of the year – from the toughest side of the draw – in the US Open at Brookline.
“I say it every year, it’s always great to come back to The Irish Open and I owe a lot to it for where I am in the game with the start that I had in 2009,” Lowry said.
“It gave me the kickstart to my career that I really needed, definitely gave me one up on the rest of the guys around my level at the time.”
Lowry, who missed the cut by a shot at Brookline when it surprisingly fell at three over, added: “I have to say that was one of the more disappointing Friday evenings I’ve had.
“I went back to the house Friday afternoon, and two hours into it I was like this is going to be way tighter than I thought it was going to be. And then like an hour later, it was like this is no chance, I can pack my bags.”
Lowry had not been impressed to see some of the greens apparently being watered during Friday’s second round, writing “In what stratosphere is this fair USGA” over an Instagram image of staff spraying the 13th green.
“I got an explanation of the USGA that it doesn’t do anything to the playability of the greens, but I don’t believe that,” the 35-year-old added.
“I don’t think the greens were getting any way ridiculous at any stage. I’ve played in US Opens that were worse than that so I was disappointed.”