It may not rank with John McEnroe’s top 10 racquet smashes, but when Shane Lowry’s flashpoint arrived on the 12th hole yesterday, it almost drove him off the golf course.
The Irishman, though, remains in the Irish Open at Royal County Down after a 74 yesterday, which leaves him at four over and just inside the cut.
The Irish Open winner in Baltray 2009 missed a short putt on the par five 12th hole and broke his putter against one of the metal poles holding the rope. Lowry started his round on the 10th hole, which meant he played the 15 holes after the 12th using his wedge to putt.
“I banged it against a post that holds the ropes and just threw it into a bush. It’s still down there somewhere,” said Lowry. His coach, Neil Manchip, in fact picked it out of the bush.
"Things happen. I'm not proud of myself for doing it," he added. "I apologised to the lads (Francesco Molinari and Ernie Els) on the last green there. It's not something that people want to be seeing, that kids want to be seeing."
His story gets better. Lowry improved as the round progressed. He had contemplated putting with a two iron and thought about the driver, but opted for the wedge.
It helped him to three birdies after the turn, one of them from almost 30 feet on the par three seventh hole. Still, he had to be convinced to stay out on the course by his caddie Dermot Byrne.
“I walked off the 17th green; I said to Neil ‘there’s no point in me staying out here’. I said to him, ‘I’ll make a show of myself’. I know I was quite embarrassed at the time, because it wasn’t as if there was no one around watching.
“But Dermot said to me ‘There’s no way I’m letting you walk in here – you’re not walking in. You can’t’.
“I just got frustrated. That’s the way I am, ask Dermot. I’m a bit hot-headed at times. But I’m not going to try to change it. That’s the kind of player I am and I think it’s a part of what has me where I am today.”
“Obviously I need to calm it down a little bit at times. You can’t do stupid things like that. But that’s a mistake I made today and I’ll learn from it. I’m just quite lucky the way I played, I managed to hole a few, and to be honest I don’t deserve to make the cut doing something like that.”
Looking stress-free but relieved coming off the final green, Lowry was able to see the humorous side. He has spare putters with him, but quickly condemned the blade for not working over the first couple of days.
“We talked about it,” quipped Lowry. “Dermot said, ‘It’s going to be an even harder day for me if I have to club you on the greens . . .’ I’ve a few spare [putters] in the boot of the car and to be honest it wasn’t going too well for me for the last two rounds anyway.”
Not only was it imperative to make a perfect connection with the leading edge of the wedge, but Lowry was also forced to change his regular putting grip, which is like that of Pádraig Harrington, left hand below right.
“I’m cack-handed. I couldn’t putt my wedge cack-handed. I putt it quite upright. So it’s totally different. I just put it down on the ground and tried to blade it.
“To be honest I was trying to leave myself quick putts. If you leave yourself quick putts it’s easy, because all you do then is worry about the strike. So if you leave yourself a long putt it’s quite difficult to strike it properly.”
Undaunted Lowry believes a good third round score could propel him back into the mix, although he added if the course dries further that will be its best defence.
Is there a 66 in you, he was asked.
“Yeah, if everything goes well,” he said. “I think you knock off the three par-fives, 16 . . . if you play the tough holes well there’s a score.”