Open Champion Shane Lowry took time out of his preparation for the Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers to play a few holes with leading Saudi amateur Saud Al-Sharif.
Almost 11 years on from announcing himself to the golfing world with a now iconic victory at the Irish Open while still an amateur, Lowry played the final three holes at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club with the 20-year old Al-Sharif, giving him advice on how to best approach his national championship.
The five-time European Tour winner is perfectly placed to comment on the pressure of playing on home soil, having defeated Robert Rock in a play-off to secure his maiden career victory at the 2009 Irish Open. Sharing pointers on the mentality and character needed to overcome the odds, as well as what it takes to make it as a professional golfer, he was in reflective mood as he looked back on that victory and the considerable part it has played on his career.
“It was great to be able to meet with Saud Al-Sharif today and play a few of the closing holes at Royal Greens with him,” said the 32-year old Lowry. “He definitely has the potential to do well this week at his home tournament, as well as progressing further beyond the tournament and turning professional. I will be keeping a close eye out for him throughout the tournament and hopefully we might get to play again with each other later in the week.”
Al-Sharif, who hopes to one day compete internationally as a professional golfer, has just completed a month’s training with the Saudi Arabian Golf Federation-backed National Golf Team. Held at The Claude Harmon Golf Academy Dubai, he trained alongside his compatriot and fellow amateur star, Faisal Salhab, who is also competing this week.
“To have been given the opportunity to play a few holes with the Open Champion and get his advice on how to best compete this week as an amateur was a great experience for me” said Al-Sharif. “It was great to get some pointers from Shane on how to win and I am hoping to put them into action and test myself against some of the world’s best golfers.”
This is the second consecutive year in which Al-Sharif has competed in the Saudi International, having first teed it up in the inaugural tournament last year, returning this week as a result of his top-ranking national team status.
With the tournament getting underway from the 30th January, he will tee it up alongside some of the world’s best players, including current World Number One Brooks Koepka and defending champion Dustin Johnson, as part of an all-star field in King Abdullah Economic City.