Offaly's Shane Lowry was relishing the chance to defend his Portugal Masters title today after letting a third European Tour title slip from his grasp a fortnight ago.

Lowry charged into contention in the final round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews, going to the turn on the Old Course in 33 and then holing his second shot to the 10th for an eagle two.

When he also birdied the 11th to be six under for the day Lowry found himself in the outright lead, but dropped shots at the 13th and 15th proved costly and saw the 26-year-old miss out on the play-off between David Howell and Peter Uihlein by a single shot.

"People say there is a lot of pressure being the defending champion but you have to look at the positives and say 'I won around this course a year ago so there is no reason why I can't give myself the chance to do it again'.

“That's the frame of mind I'm going in with this week," said Lowry, who won the 2009 Irish Open while still an amateur.

"I played great in the Dunhill and have been playing good of late as well. There is definitely a lot of confidence going in, I just need to try to hold back a little bit and not get too far ahead of myself.

"I feel like I've kicked on a little bit this year. I feel like I've put myself in position more times than not to win this year and it's been good for me."

"When you see your name on the leaderboard on a Sunday afternoon, it's hard" - Shane Lowry

"I probably should have won at the Dunhill, I gave myself a great chance.

"I was the one leading going into the back nine on Sunday and didn't really do it from there. At Gleneagles (for the Johnnie Walker Championship) I gave myself a good chance, I was in the third last group at the Dutch Open.

"I feel like I've been pushing to win tournaments this year and I just learn from every week and one of these weeks when I give myself a chance, I'm sure I'll pull it off.

"You need to learn how to win. You need to learn how to compete at the highest level. It's just all about building experience and going from there. You learn to be comfortable.

"When you see your name on the leaderboard on a Sunday afternoon, it's hard.

"It's hard to not get ahead of yourself and not think about winning. You just have to take it one shot at a time and keep it going from there."