Shane Lowry has his sights set on Masters glory this week.
It is fair to say that Shane Lowry has endured mixed fortunes since the greatest week of his life.
After memorably capturing The Open Championship at Royal Portrush in July 2019, the 33-year-old has failed to make himself a fixture at the higher end of the leaderboards.
In 30 worldwide events since his Open triumph, Lowry has missed eight cuts and has not posted a top-five finish since the Hong Kong Open in January.
However, there have been signs of the old Shane in recent weeks. After a disappointing missed cut at the Irish Open in September, Lowry has posted three consecutive top-30 finishes.
He led after 36 holes at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and challenged the lead during last week’s Houston Open before a stuttering finish to his final round left him in a tie for 11th.
History would suggest that Lowry is unlikely to continue his upward curve at Augusta.
In four previous appearances at the Masters, he has missed the cut three times, a tie for 39th in 2016 his best showing.
But Lowry has a plan to put right his deeply underwhelming Augusta record.
“I have never driven the ball well around here and that is strange,” Lowry said during his Tuesday press conference.
“I have never played the par-fives well around here and everybody knows you need to play the par-fives well to shoot a decent score.
“I kind of have my eye on that a little bit this week. Hopefully, I can get off to a good start on Thursday.”
Indeed, keeping the ball in play off the tee and scoring on the par-fives, especially the 13th and 15th holes, will give Lowry a fighting chance this week.
And while he has never effectively applied his considerable skill set around Augusta, the Offaly native says the famed Georgia layout remains his favourite place to play golf.
“I’m probably coming in a with a bit more form than I have ever have,” added Lowry.
“I do feel like my game is in a good place.
“It’s my favourite place in the world to play golf, but it’s somewhere I have never had much success.
“I don’t think I have shot too many great rounds around here, but I’m hoping the time of year might change my luck.”
Lowry remains the reigning Open champion with the 2020 championship having been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
And while he admits it will be difficult to match the high of lifting the Claret Jug in front of an energetic Irish crowd at Portrush, he says becoming the first Irishman to conquer Augusta would be ‘very special’.
“I’ll struggle [to the high of winning the Open], but if I have a chance, it will be around here.
“To be the first Irish man to ever wear the green jacket would be very special, and would be one of the few things that could top it.
“I achieved something very, very special last year. I probably won’t ever top that, but it could be around here. I think they [achievements] would be on par.”