MARANA, Arizona - Taking on the world's top golfer would be a daunting challenge for most players but Shane Lowry says he is feeling calm ahead of his clash with Rory McIlroy at this week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
Irishman Lowry, who will play the world number one in Wednesday's opening round at Dove Mountain, has known twice major winner McIlroy since their amateur days together and they have become good friends.
"I'm really buzzing, really looking forward to it," Lowry, 25, told reporters on Tuesday. "I'm actually quite calm. Going out, playing against the best golfer in the world, you can't help but get yourself up for it.
"We go way back maybe eight or 10 years. I've known Rory since he was a little kid, although he's not much older now.
"He was there when I turned pro, when I won the Irish Open. He's given me some great advice over the last few years. He's always there if I ever need anything."
At the age of 22, Lowry rocketed to prominence when he became only the third amateur to triumph on the European Tour with a playoff victory over Englishman Robert Rock for the 2009 Irish Open.
McIlroy was also there, and he drenched Lowry in champagne amidst raucous celebrations.
"I can't remember much of what happened that weekend," Lowry smiled. "I just remember it was a great weekend in my life."
The Irishman does remember, though, that it was McIlroy who advised him to turn professional immediately after his Irish Open success.
"He was the first one to tell me to turn pro," Lowry, 25, said. "Everyone was trying to get me to stay amateur. I think that was some good advice. He's just been there if I ever needed him.
"Playing practice rounds with one of the best golfers in the world, he doesn't really need to tell you anything, you just learn from watching him."
Lowry went on to clinch his second European Tour title at last year's Portugal Masters, in his eyes a crucial stepping stone in his development as a professional golfer.
"To win my first event as a professional was huge for me, and it gave me a great deal of self belief and confidence," he said.
"I feel like I can kick on now and become a top 50 in the world player ... top 30, top 20, and compete in these big tournaments."
Asked if he might have any advantage on Wednesday in knowing McIlroy's game as well as he does, Lowry replied: "I don't think anyone can have any advantages against Rory to be honest.
"I don't think I have any advantages. I just have to go out and play my best golf. I'll be gunning to try and beat him. If I beat Rory tomorrow, it would be one of the great stories of my career so far. I've got nothing to lose." (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue)