Shane Lowry’s observations in the immediate aftermath of finishing in a tie for third place behind tournament winner CT Pan in the RBC Heritage classic at Harbour Town Golf Links were tinged with disappointment, understandably so given the context of how the final round panned out.
Starting the day one behind the leader Dustin Johnson he clambered to the top of a cluttered leaderboard with birdies on the second, third and sixth. A bogey on the ninth stalled that momentum temporarily, but it was the double bogey on the 12th when he took four to get down from about 30 yards left of the green that proved particularly punitive.
His short game had been stunning in the first three rounds, at one point 12 from 12 in getting up and down around the greens, but on this one occasion both chips came up short. He recovered to birdie the 14th, but by the time he made it to the 18th he needed to hole out with his second shot for eagle to force a playoff with Pan.
His final round, one under 70, saw him finish in a tie for third alongside Scott Piercy and Patrick Cantlay, one behind Matt Kuchar and two adrift of Pan, his best performance since winning the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January and bringing to an end a frustrating couple of months result-wise in the interim. Victory would have guaranteed a place in this year's British Open at Royal Portrush, and an invitation to the 2020 US Masters.
Lowry admitted: “I personally feel like it almost got away. I’m a little bit disappointed. This was my best week in quite a while, so many positives to take, and I’m looking forward to next week. Look, after coming so close, it’s hard to describe what it’s like, but I’m sure I’ll get over it and move on to next week.
“[It’s the] best I’ve hit the ball in a while. I’ve already won this year, so this is my ninth tournament. And a win and another great chance to win, I suppose I’m doing things right. I’m looking forward to next week and the rest of the season.”
The salve of time should help to ease the disappointment, as will a cheque for $358,000 (€318,208), moving up seven places to 43rd in the world rankings, to 125th place in the FedEx Cup standings on the PGA Tour, and providing some impetus ahead of the upcoming US PGA Championship and US Open.
Lowry was joined in the top 10 at Harbour Town by Waterford's Seamus Power, tied sixth on nine under after a closing 67. Power had missed 11 of 15 cuts this season, but his performance drew down a cheque for $231,150 (€205,402) and saw him jump 48 places to 141st in the FedEx Cup standings.
He said: “The last four or five tournaments have been much, much better. It was a struggle early [in the season], but starting with The Players I started to find some stuff. So it’s been encouraging. A week like this is great. It’s a kick-start for me. I’m not where I want to be, but certainly it is a move in the right direction.”
Graeme McDowell, who won the 2013 Heritage Classic, finished in a tie for 48th after a disappointing final round of 73. The Northern Ireland golfer, Power and Lowry all head for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana, a pairs tournament.
Lowry will partner his good friend Padraig Harrington, McDowell will buddy up with Sweden's Henrik Stenson, while Power will play with Canadian David Hearn, a partnership that saw them finish fifth in last year's tournament.
The format for the two-man team event is Fourball better-ball in the first and third rounds, with Foursomes in rounds two and four. Eighty teams (160 players) will tee it up, with the field cut to the top 35 teams and ties after 36 holes.
The tournament dispenses both FedEx points and official prize money on the PGA Tour. For example the winning team will receive 400 points apiece, combining the 500 points that would normally go to the winner of a strokeplay event on tour and the 300 for second place.
Both players on the winning team will receive a two-year winners’ exemption, a place in amongst other events, the PGA Tour Tournament of Champions, The Players Championship, and will also be recognised in the tournament winners’ category for the US PGA Championship.
The European Tour resumes this week following a break with the Trophee Hassan at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam course in Morocco. Paul Dunne, Michael Hoey and Gavin Moynihan are amongst the field, while Portmarnock's Robin Dawson was on the reserve list at the time of writing.
Hoey is a former winner of the tournament having captured the title in 2012.