It’s the pep-talk that has already gone down in Irish sporting folklore, writes Paul Kelly. An anxious Shane Lowry and coach Neil Manchip meet on the Wednesday of the Open Championship week for ‘a bit of a chat’.
“The last thing you want to do is come up here and miss the cut. That’s the last thing you want to do. And that was kind of in my mind,” said the Open Champion. “I wanted to play at least four days, and wanted to put up a good show for myself.
“So, yeah, it really settled me down. I left the Bushmills Inn and I really felt like I could go out and perform to the best of my ability the next day. So it obviously helped me an awful lot along the way.”
So what words of wisdom did Edinburgh-born Manchip pass on, what special insights did he give Lowry to get him into the right state of mind to go on and win the Claret Jug?
“We chatted through a few scenarios,” said the 46-year-old. “At elite level, if you are playing well, have a good strategy and are in a good frame of mind, there’s an opportunity to compete.”
Manchip has worked with Lowry since the Offaly man came into the Golfing Union of Ireland GUI) coaching programme as an amateur in 2006.
He is the national coach with the GUI, a post he has held since 2005. In fact, while the celebrations continued in the wake of Shane’s success, Manchip had to slip off to attend to his duties at the Boys Interprovincials.
With Shane, his role has evolved way beyond simply keeping Shane’s swing in good working order. He’s a friend, a mentor, a counsellor and a confidante.
“It was a quite amazing week when you think back on it,” added Neil. “Saturday, with the brilliant weather, and Shane’s great finish and then Sunday, you don’t normally get crowds acting like that except at a Ryder Cup.
“Yeah, there’s no other word for it, it was amazing although that Sunday was a bloody long day.”
Manchip always believed the Lowry would win a major even when the player himself hasn’t always been convinced.
“Anyone that really knows Shane knows how good he is and knows how much heart he has,” added Neil. “We didn’t know when he would win a major. They are hard to win. It was a gradual thing for Shane working through how he deals with the situation.
“But he has a knack for winning big events. The Irish Open as an amateur, winning the Bridgestone, winning a Rolex Series event and now the Open Championship. To beat Tommy Fleetwood by six shots is some achievement.”