Shane Lowry getting closer to mastering Augusta’s challenges
British Open champion finished with a round of 72 for a top-25 finish
Shane Lowry plays from the sixth tee on Sunday. Photo: Erik S. Lesser/EPA
A stony stare off the 12th tee is, in itself, a ritual of the Masters. And that’s what Shane Lowry was forced to play out in his final round of the 85th edition of the tournament as his tee-shot on the Par 3 with angelic aesthetics but delish intent saw his ball disappear to a watery grave, as he became part of the folklore of the most famous Par 3 in golf.
To the 34-year-old Offalyman’s credit, Lowry - after taking a penalty drop - managed to salvage a bogey on that hole as a final round 72 for a level par 288 total gave him a top-25 finish that, perhaps, provided some indication of a forward path for future attempts to add a green jacket to his wardrobe.
In fairness to Lowry, who made it three cuts from six appearances, the learning process is an important one in terms of future planning in his attempt to add a Masters to his Open Championship Claret Jug at some point of his career.
Lowry’s round got off to a poor start with a pulled drive into trees down the left which led to an opening bogey and, although he got that shot back on the Par 5 second, and kicked on with birdies on the fifth and seventh, a bogey on the ninth, where he three-putted from 12 feet, saw him turn in 35.
“Frustrating,” said Lowry of his round, pointing out that three-putt on the ninth as a speed bump that turned into a road block
It was that water ball on the 12th, though, which effectively ended Lowry’s bid to secure a top-10 finish. “I just picked the wrong line and the wind hammered it,” said Lowry of his tee shot coming up short, hitting the bank and rolling back into the hazard.
Although he managed to limit the damage to a bogey, with an exquisite wedge shot from his penalty drop, Lowry’s birdie on the 13th, where he two-putted after reaching the green in two, was his only positive contribution to his card and a closing bogey, where his approach found a greenside bunker, made for an anti-climatic conclusion to his challenge.
Lowry birdied both the second and 13th in his final round but again put his play of the Par 5s through the tournament as a negative in his general career play of the tournament: “Every time I play her he say the same thing. (They’re) a couple of a tee shots I just don’t really like. I don’t like the tee shot on number two and I don’t like the tee shot on 13, I have struggled in the past…..even on eight, I seem to put myself in a good position every day and not birdie it once.
He added: “You know, people automatically look at Augusta, and the think it’s straightforward off the tee, but that second hole is a really smelly tee shot. You pitch it down the left side of the fairway and you can’t find yourself down there, there’s a hazard.”
In reflecting on his latest experience of playing Augusta, Lowry did make the point that every time he plays the course he is learning more.” I loved the way I played this week but when I sit down and look back I think it will be a week when I could have done an awful lot better.”
Lowry will continue his busy playing schedule by moving on to the RBC Heritage Classic at Hilton Head, where he will be joined in the field by Graeme McDowell. However, his regular caddie Bo Martin will be unavailable as he needs to return home to Northern Ireland to get his second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Lowry will look to pick up a spare caddie for Hilton Head but queried how the Irish Open - scheduled for Mount Juliet in July - could possibly be affected by the introduction of quarantine measures for people travelling into Ireland, including from the United States and France.
As for future Masters appearances? Lowry is convinced he is getting to grips with the course. “I struggle to be conservative, I need to be a bit more discipline. I am starting to figure it out, I really am. If I can keep doing what I am doing.”