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The Irishman hasn’t teed it up since December’s DP World Tour Championship and admitted he got to a point last year where he “really didn’t enjoy golf” but enters this week refreshed and excited for the season ahead.
“Every year you start, you want it to be your best year,” Lowry said. “I think I really didn't enjoy my golf towards the end of last year. Played a lot of golf, probably played too much. Really enjoyed my time at the Ryder Cup, and then after that I probably should have taken a bit more of a break.
“But I had a nice break there at Christmas. And I went back to Florida a couple weeks ago, and I was really excited to get back to the golf course and back practising again, which is a good sign for me.
“So excited for the year ahead. If you count 2009, which I was on Tour for most of, this is my 14th season on Tour, which is bananas. Time flies. It's exciting and I really feel like I'm coming to an age now where I'm hopefully coming to the prime of my career, and I can do some really good things in this game.”
Lowry, 34, will be able to draw on good memories having tasted success in this tournament back in 2019. But he will have to come to grips with the different challenge posed by new venue Yas Links if he is to repeat the feat in 2022.
“It's obviously along the coast here, and it's going to be quite windy,” he added. “It's fairly tricky around the greens, and so it's going to require a lot of good iron play. And decent with the short game if you miss the greens.
“It's a course that, fully confident, I'm playing confident with my game and going into it I'd be really, really bullish about this week. But I've had two months without a tournament, and I'm always a bit anxious on a week like this about how I'm going to be playing going into it.
“It's a course I feel like would suit me. I always said I like coming over here to the desert to play golf. I've had some decent success here. You come back to a tournament you've won before and you see your name on the trophy, a picture of that around the place holding that trophy is pretty nice. It's another event. It's at a golf course that I like, and I'm looking forward to the week ahead.”
Poulter: ‘I need to get back into the top 50’
The Englishman has hovered on the periphery of the top 50 for the last two seasons and currently sits 56th as he prepares to embark on his 24th season on tour. Poulter made his debut at Augusta National back in 2004 and has gone on to make 16 appearances to date, recording two top-10s and a best finish of T6 in 2015.
Having not yet received an invitation for the 2022 edition, the 46-year-old has committed to a packed early season schedule - playing seven out of eight weeks - that begins with back-to-back DP World Tour Rolex Series events.
“It's great to elevate these two tournaments the way the DP World Tour has done,” Poulter said. “It gives us great opportunity. Next week is a course we know incredibly well, a course that I've played well in the past as well, so I'm looking forward to a busy kind of three-month schedule leading into the Masters.
“I always kind of plan my schedule that way. I need to get back to the top-50 or 54 in the world or something like that. Playing in big tournaments with good fields should help.”
Poulter has failed to make the cut in the last two Abu Dhabi HSBC Championships at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, so perhaps the change of venue to Yas Links will play into his hands. The Englishman paid tribute to the “clever” design ahead of his Thursday tee time.
“It's in pretty immaculate condition,” he added. “We have some high winds forecasted on Friday, so hopefully it's not too strong that it takes us off the golf course because it will be a severe test in that wind.
“But it's a clever golf course, the way it wraps around, the two nines. You've got some great, cool pin positions, you can have right on the edge of the water. It's going to be good viewing for everyone back home to watch and obviously it will be fun for us to play.”
A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.
Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.
As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.
What's in Andy's bag?
Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)
3-wood: TaylorMade M1 (15°)
Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)
Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)
Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2.5
Ball: Titleist Pro V1