Shane Lowry gets right in the mix before disaster strikes
Offaly golfer was five under through his first 16 holes before it all came apart at the 17th
Shane Lowry of Ireland is consoled by his caddie Dermot Byrne after the second round of the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images
In-form Hideki Matsuyama can do no wrong at the moment, and Shane Lowry very nearly got to discover that feeling . . . . until he was undone by one loose swing on his penultimate hole, the Par 3 17th that is the centrepiece of the Green Mile, where he ran up a triple-bogey six that halted his charge up the leader board at this 99th US PGA Championship in its tracks.
As Matsuyama, a runaway winner of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational last week, shot a bogey-free course record 64 to join American Kevin Kisner in a share of the 36 hole lead on eight-under-par 134, Lowry – distracted by movement on the tee as he prepared to hit his tee-shot – was left to rue those wasted shots on the 17th which provided the only blips on his scorecard.
Lowry’s second round 69 for 143 moved him to the fringes of contention, in tied-23rd, but unquestionably that “silly triple bogey” as he described it – shortly after returning to the course following a weather delay – was a tough pill to swallow for the Offalyman.
“This game puzzles me every day of the week. Even on one of my best days of the year I am still disappointed coming off and that’s what this game does to you. I can’t explain what this game does to you, it is mentally very challenging but I am a fighter. I will fight on and I will work hard and I will stick my head down and I will grind as hard as I can and I will do alright,” said Lowry.
The triple bogey was like a bolt from the blue. Up to that point, and even afterwards in his play of the 18th, Lowry played beautifully. “I don’t like blaming people,” said Lowry in refusing to give himself a bailout for the tee shot on the 17th when distracted by a marshal asking for “quiet” and which finished in greenside Bermuda rough. The error was compounded by his pitch shot then scurrying like a scalded cat across the green into the lake.
“I thought it was sitting worse than it was and that’s why it came out so fast. Right of the green, it was all into the grain, and I walked up onto it [the green], and there was water coming up over my shoes. So it was very wet. If pitched it in there, it was going to stop. So I was trying to pitch it hard in there. So that’s why it came out fast. To be honest, I didn’t think I could pitch it into the water. A foot or two less pace and it wouldn’t have gone in. But...” he said, adding:
“I just need to tell myself that I played 17 great holes. I am hitting the ball well, I am happy with what I am doing. I am in a decent position.”
Matsuyama’s 64 – later matched by Italian Francesco Molinari – gave him a share of the lead with Kisner, with nine groups unable to finish their second rounds due to darkness. Matsuyama and Kisner held a two stroke lead over Australian Jason Day, with Molinari and Louis Oosthuizen a shot further back in tied-fourth along Chris Stroud, with five holes of his round left to finish.
Jordan Spieth’s quest for the career Grand Slam is alive, if not too well. He will require a superhuman effort to catch and overtake the leaders after a second round 73 for 145, three-over, left him in tied-46th and with a lot of ground to make up.