Shane Lowry insists the LIV Golf controversy and the “disgusting” amounts of money being mentioned are alienating the average “Joe Soap” who’s struggling to make ends meet and pay his golf subscription.
Fresh from his BMW PGA Championship win at Wentworth on Sunday, where he held off Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy to win for the first time since the 2019 Open Championship, the Clara man revealed he was never tempted to jump ship because he plays for trophies, not money.
Lowry revealed that while he was “well looked after” for signing up to play the Saudi International for three years from 2020 as it suited his schedule and was a European Tour event, his wife helped remind him why he would never contemplate going to LIV.
“When the rumours were going on about LIV, I always feared for the European Tour,” Lowry told the No Laying Up podcast. “Personally was happy to see them aligning with the PGA Tour. Selfishly it’s good for me, but it’s good for golf too.
“The issues players might have is that LIV Golf is throwing around so much money, the DP World Tour might have taken that or could have taken that. But that’s too quick of a fix when you are talking about golf in general.
“At that (players only) meeting in Delaware, I was like, lads, we have to do what’s right for golf not what’s right for us. We are not always going to be there, but golf is and I feel what the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour have done and will do over the next few years is better for golf.
“I am very lucky to have the life I have. But it is not my God-given right to go off and do something that can bury those tours. It’s just up to me to hold my place there and pass it on to someone when it’s my time to sail off into the sunset.
“Hopefully, what’s going on now will strengthen the DP World Tour and hopefully golf in general can be better going forward.”
Lowry believes the average DP World Tour player will be playing for more money than ever over the next few years and that golf is not like the NFL or the NBA and needs to be careful.
“If we divide our top players, golf could be in trouble,” he said. “I am not worried about myself. I have done very well. I am worried about the game.
“That 10 players are going to get their PGA Tour cards in Europe, I think that’s incredible. It’s going to make them better players who will come back and support our biggest events.”
As for his decision not to go to LIV Golf, he said: “I have always said I play for trophies, not for money. That’s why I didn’t entertain it, to be honest.
“I stood there on the 18th green on Sunday and looked at the trophy and it was a Who’s Who of European golf. I don’t care how much money I won and in fact, on Sunday night at 11 o’clock, somebody asked me how much I won today and I had no idea. I opened my phone and had to go to the text from the European Tour to see how much I’d won.
“My wife, not that she had a big part to play in it because it was never much of a thought in my head, she said, ‘Shane, all that money is not going to make you happy. All that’s going to make you happy is playing at the highest level.’
“The reason I have never even contemplated it is I don’t think it is good for the game.”
Lowry regrets saying at the Saudi International in January, “I’m a golfer, not a politician.”
He said: “That was the wrong thing to say. I played the Saudi international for the last three years and it would have been very hypocritical for me to say, I don’t like where the money is coming from. I just think it is bad for the game.”
He admitted it was “awkward” to see the LIV players at Wentworth last week, especially the “stalwarts” like Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Graeme McDowell and didn’t feel comfortable seeing them there.
“They knew LIV was going to be disruptive and divisive and for them to think they can come back and play whenever they want when they are going to be playing 14 events next year and their dates are going to be opposite some of our bigger events, I just don’t think they thought it through properly.”
He added: “We are lucky the corporate world loves golf and that’s why we have such great sponsors. But I think this is causing a division in the game and it’s going to piss people off. People are going to stop watching it.
“The amount of money that is being thrown around is absolutely disgusting at the moment. I feel all people talk about is money now.
“We play for points in the FedEx Cup, but all the commentators talked about at the Tour Championship was how much money guys were going to win and I thought, will you just talk about the trophy or the title or how many times Tiger has won it.
“Going down the stretch, Rory was going to pass Tiger if he wins this. I think it’s disgusting the money we’re alking about.
“The general Joe Soap, the guy who works his nuts off to make €50,000 a year and has to struggle to pay his membership at his golf club and loves the game so much, this is pissing him off more than anyone and I think that’s the wrong thing to do.”
As for his post-round celebration video on Sunday, he revealed he’d gone to bed at midnight as he had a golf day on Monday and had to be up at 6 am for a 6:45 am pick-up.
That explains why Pádraig Harrington couldn’t get him on the phone at 3:30 am after his win on the PGA Tour Champions in St Louis and joked he was a “lightweight”.
“I am Irish, and people are very stereotypical,” Lowry said. “I do like a drink. I probably don’t drink as much as people might think. It’s not like I’m sitting at home every evening. I do like to go and meet my friends, though I didn’t get to do it as much this day as I’m living over here in Florida.
“Obviously, when I won The Open, we were celebrating pretty hard that week. It is hard to win big tournaments and you have to celebrate it. On Sunday night, it was good. It was nice. We were back at the hotel and I had a few friends over the tournament last week.
“We had a few drinks and food at the hotel, Rory called in. I think he was one of the last to leave. I was in bed before him because I think he was still celebrating his FedEx cup win. I was actually in bed at 12 o’clock, believe it or not, because I had a golf day the following day and I was getting picked up at 6:45, so I was up at six on Monday morning, so I was OK. I only had a few drinks. I wasn’t the worse for wear.”