Shane Lowry: ‘That’s the best level par I have ever shot in my life’

Third-round 70 sees Lowry move up leaderboard; Tom McKibbin posts fine 71 to also move up

Shane Lowry gets a face full of sand as he plays from a bunker on the third hole during the third round of the US Open at Pinehurst in North Carolina. Photograph: Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

Shane Lowry described it as “torture”, yet walked off the 18th green of his third round of the 124th US Open with a broad grin after posting a level-par 70 to reach the three-quarter point of the championship on five-over-par 215 that enabled him to make upward progress up the leaderboard to its mid-ranks.

“That’s the best level par I have ever shot in my life, every shot is brutally difficult,” said Lowry after his day’s work in temperatures in the mid-30s and also with firm greens, tricky pin placements and a swirling breeze that proved troublesome.

“There’s not much craic out there to be honest,” he added.

Lowry and caddie Darren Reynolds plotted a route that produced a 70 of three birdies, three bogeys and 12 pars, while Tom McKibbin – who impressively birdied the 18th hole on Friday evening to also survive on the cutline in his debut in the Majors – posted a fine 71 for 216.


“I’m going to go home and lie on the couch for a few hours,” said Lowry, laughing. “Another round of level par [on Sunday] and it will be a great tournament I think. If I somehow manage to shoot under par it will be better obviously. All in all, it has been a good first three days. The tournament didn’t start the best, front nine on Thursday, but since then I have been pretty good.

“You have to be defensive in the right ways because in golfing terms it means playing away from the hole or playing away from the flag, but more often than not out there you are better off being short-sided. If you are on the long side, and if you get that a yard too hard you are gone off the far side, so if you are short-sided your bad shot is past the hole and it is 15, 20 feet for par. Out there you can deal with bogeys, you just can’t deal with doubles,” said Lowry, who stuck so well to the task in difficult conditions.

His birdies on the sixth and the 16th were especially against the head, on two of the toughest holes. And after his birdie putt on the 17th from 40 feet grazed the cup, there was a well-thought par save on the 18th where his approach rolled back off the green and he was left some 55 feet from the pin. He opted to putt into the grainy slope, and executed brilliantly which left him a short putt for the par save.

“It’s so grainy around these greens the percentage play is putting,” explained Lowry of that last hole decision-making which brought a smile on departing the 18th green to strong support from those in the galleries, again demonstrating the widespread fan base he has developed in the US.

McKibbin’s first US Open was extended into the weekend and he again looked very much at home.

The 21-year-old Belfastman’s 71 – which saw him reach the turn in three-over 35 for the front nine and then rescued by a superb homeward run that featured birdies on the 12th and 15th holes – saw him leapfrog quite a number of players on the leaderboard.

Of that birdie putt to close his round on Friday night to survive the cut, McKibbin said: “I think I would have been gutted if I’d missed the cut by one. I would rather have shot 80 and missed the cut by a mile. It was very important for me to experience these last few days here in a Major and I think it’ll do me well.”

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times