Lowry shows composure to steady the ship
Offalyman battles back after successive double bogeys to make the cut at Hoylake
Ireland’s Shane Lowry shows his annoyance with a pulled tee shot on the seventh tee which contributed to the first of two successive double bogeys. Photo: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA
Shane Lowry was in danger of blowing a gasket as he stood on the ninth tee box.
“I was half-thinking of doing a Henrik Stenson, ” he quipped, a reference to the Swede snapping his club over his knee in a fit of pique on Thursday.
But the Offalyman – who’d suffered back-to-back double-bogeys on the preceding two holes, the seventh and eighth – kept the club intact.
And it was a good job he did keep his cool. For, over the homeward run, Lowry got off the roller-coaster and found some equilibrium.
A round that had been falling out of his control was rescued, thanks to a homeward run that kept any errors off his card and produced two birdies – on the 11th and 17th – as he signed for a second round 76, to reach the midpoint of the championship on 143, one-under-par.
In truth, having found the worse side of the draw weather-wise, something that players learn to live with, Lowry showed character and maturity in keeping it all together as his quest to make an impact threatened to disintegrate.
Here’s what happened. Having covered the first six holes with ease, his swing easy and controlled, Lowry reached the 480 yards Par 4 seventh hole – statistically the toughest on the course – where he pulled his tee-shot into the left rough.
The marshal threw his cap over the ball, so that Lowry could locate it. That’s how buried it was. But he took his medicine, it seemed, in chipping back out onto the fairway. His approach, though, finished on the front edge and three putts from 35 feet led to a double-bogey.
Bit unluckyIt got worse. On the eight, another Par 4, Lowry’s four-iron tee-shot was caught in a gust of wind and fell into the trees in the out-of-bounds. Not that Lowry knew that. He marched forward expecting to find his ball in the middle of the fairway. “I think I was just a little bit unlucky there and, I mean, things like that are hard to take . . . . it was a shock to the system,” he later remarked.
He had to retrace his steps, getting halfway back before a buggy speeded up his journey. Another ugly double-bogey marked his card. And another poor tee shot on the ninth, after which he briefly considered snapping his club but didn’t, led to another bogey.
“I was half-thinking of doing a Henrik Stenson on it but then I thought I might need it coming in. I’m that type of player. If I bottle it up, it could come out really bad. So I think if I just let it go, give myself a bit of a talking-to and get annoyed, it really helps,” said Lowry.
To his credit, Lowry got his act together. In his thinking, it was a good thing that he was starting a new nine; that he could effectively wipe the slate clean as it were.
“By then, I was thinking, ‘right, try to make the cut from there’ because it’s not easy in that downwind. I’m proud of myself the way I regrouped and the way I played the back nine. I gave myself a chance on pretty much every hole on the way in.”
On the 18th, he reached the green in two and his 35-footer for eagle missed the hole. He was left with a tap-in for birdie, and some momentum to bring forward into the weekend. In three British Open appearances, Lowry has now made the cut in all three. But the ambition is to do more than make the cut.
Weather godsThe weather gods may have smiled on those on the other side of the draw for the first two rounds, and that is simply the way of golfing life, but at least Lowry has survived into the weekend and knowing that – apart from two holes–- his swing is good and his rhythm smooth.
“I was a little bit on the wrong side of the draw, which you can’t do anything about, but I’m here for the weekend, I’m under par and, if you asked me if I would have taken this on Wednesday, I probably would have. I’m confident going into the weekend. I probably couldn’t have played any better over the two rounds. Seven and eight were a real killer but that’s golf . . . .”
He added: “I had my ball under control. I drove it well. My distance control with my irons was good. I’m playing well in the cross winds and hitting good shots into the wind and downwind, so I have everything in the bag that I need.
“Hopefully, I can just go out there (in the third round) and do something and see what happens.”