Shane Lowry well aware that patience is key at US Open

The Offaly golfer fought hard to make the cut on Friday and now looks to make a birdie run

Shane Lowry tries to punch out of the sand onto the ninth green during the second round of the US Open at Erin Hills. Photo: Michael Madrid/USA Today

Shane Lowry tries to punch out of the sand onto the ninth green during the second round of the US Open at Erin Hills. Photo: Michael Madrid/USA Today

 

Shane Lowry got himself into an awkward position on the ninth hole, one which showcased the precarious of the moment and also his bid to keep alive his quest for glory in this 117th edition of the US Open championship.

His tee-shot on the par three ninth – a wedge, hit from an elevated tee box – drifted ever so slightly and then kicked into one of those raggedy greenside bunkers that are a penal part of the course setup.

But these devilishly difficult bunkers are integral parts of the challenge set by the trio of golf course designers who created Erin Hills, and so it was that Lowry’s ball had found one of the nooks and crannies in a deep bunker. It meant he could place only one foot in the sand, the other – rather unsteadily – on the grassy mound. His attempt to extricate the ball proved unsuccessful, and it hit the bank and rolled back into the trap. 

“I was trying to go left of the flag and got unlucky,” he later admitted.

It was his next shot, though, which effectively brought life back into Lowry’s game. His second attempt at playing the shot, this time with both feet planted into the trap, was beautifully executed and the ball was splayed out to tap-in distance. It brought a bogey four, but it could have been worse.

So, although Lowry – who had incurred four bogeys to go with his lone birdie on a front nine of 39 strokes – was treading water at that stage in his bid to play a meaningful role in the proceedings, having suffered back-to-back bogeys on the eighth and ninth to fall outside the cut mark, that shot seemed to invigorate him. He was a different player on the homeward run, eventually signing for a 74 for 145 that ensured he would be around for the business end of the championship.

“I fought well,” admitted Lowry, of rolling up his sleeves when the going got tough. “I think the winning score is going to be in single digits, so hopefully I can make a few birdies over the weekend and give myself a chance.”

In a way, Lowry had been thrown by the speed of the greens. In his eyes, they appeared quicker than they were actually running.

“I went out (on Thursday) and gave it my best and played great. But I didn’t get as much out of this round as I felt I deserved, this was a different story. I felt the same, committed to every shot just didn’t put it on the shelves I was going for at times. But the pins were a lot tougher than they were yesterday, you get the wrong side you’re going to have a tough par. I probably need to drive it a little bit better and again my pace was off on the greens towards the end, left quite a few putts short. The greens are looking quicker than they are, it is something I will have to get right.”

Lowry – with a top-10 at Chambers Bay two years ago and an runner-up finish to Dustin Johnson at Oakmont last year – has, at least, managed to get into the final two rounds where the real decisions will be made. “It was one of those where I never felt I was going to miss it, it didn’t come iinto my head much. I was just playing my own game, trying to make birdies and when I got out of position try and make pars,” he explained.

For the first two rounds, Lowry was grouped with Jim Furyk and Scott Piercy. Oft times, Lowry was 30 or 40 yards in front of Furyk off the tee, yet the American’s commitment to his routine and his own strengths was something Lowry couldn’t help but observe and to take on board how he went about his business.

As for any possible change to his game plan in order to chase down those in front, Lowry said: “I just keep doing what I am doing. I feel like I know where the ball is going. If things don’t go my way this week I know I have got a good summer ahead of me . . . you’re not going to hit many shots into 10 feet here, you’re going to need to take advantage of the (four) Par 5s and need a couple of putts to go in for you.  I am one over and I think if I can get her into red figures (Saturday) it will be a decent day’s work.”

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