Shane Lowry recovers from poor start to keep Masters hopes alive

Tap-in birdie at the 18th capped a round of 73 but he sits seven shots behind Justin Rose

Justin Rose and Shane Lowry after finishing on the 18th green during the second round of the 2021 Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club. Photo: Erik S Lesser/EPA

Justin Rose and Shane Lowry after finishing on the 18th green during the second round of the 2021 Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club. Photo: Erik S Lesser/EPA

 

The interaction between Shane Lowry and his caddie Brian “Bo” Martin provided its own tell-tale story of how their second round of the Masters at Augusta National unfolded, before ending with a fist pump between the pair as they departed the 18th green with their hopes a little more distant than they’d like but still alive.

Actions speak louder than words, sometimes.

First, there was the nervy exchange after a poorly hit approach on the very first hole which hit and left the green. Lowry’s return pitch was poor, his subsequent putting so poor that you wondered if he’d warmed up on carpet in the rental house as he ran-up a double-bogey six. Ouch!

Then, there was the gentle chugging of the putter from Lowry to the bagman on the 11th, where a short par putt never looked like finding the bottom of the tin cup. That cold putting stroke meant Lowry was four-over on his round entering Amen Corner but it would prove to be the last blip, as birdies on the 12th, 13th and 18th ensured a recovery as he signed for a second round 73 to reach the midpoint on level-par 144, seven strokes behind clubhouse leader Justin Rose.

On the Par 5 13th, Lowry exhibited a wonderful touch when, after his approach finished in the back left bunker, he delicately played out for a tap-in birdie to keep momentum going.

That birdie on the 18th was a stunning one, and again the interplay between player and caddie was something to behold and underscored the relationship between the two. After hitting his approach to 12 inches from the flag, Lowry scooped down and picked up his divot and jokingly flung it towards Martin who caught it with his back.

When Lowry reached the green and tapped in for a closing birdie to bring smiles back, his fist pump with Martin told it’s own story. All laughs and smiles and onwards and upwards.

“I really dug in,” admitted Lowry. “Played really steady and produced a fantastic wedge on the last. You can’t see the bottom of the flag from where I was but someone told me it nearly found the cup. So, to walk off with a birdie was a huge boost heading into the weekend.”

Clubhouse lead

Rose and Lowry each recovered from poor starts. While Lowry’s real damage was inflicted with a double-bogey and bogey start, Rose too was three over his round through seven holes but managed to get back to equilibrium by the end in signing for a 72 to add to his opening 65 for a midway total of seven-under-par 137 that gave him a one stroke clubhouse lead over Brian Harman and Will Zalatoris with Australia’s Marc Leishman and in-form American Jordan Spieth one shot further back.

“My mindset today was to be free, to go out there and play as free of golf as I could because I felt that having the opportunity to play with a lead from day one could play in my favour come Sunday. You get used to it,” said Rose.

“My goal today, other than the fact I was out there in front, (was) just to try to really free up in that situation. Obviously the scorecard didn’t reflect that mindset, but it was still a good exercise for me to stick with. I felt like I actually did a pretty good job with that. I had a lot of tough four-foot putts to save bogeys, to save pars. And I really kept the momentum going on the front nine, even though the scorecard wouldn’t reflect that. I felt there were some key moments in that front nine where I was pretty proud of myself for just keeping things ticking forward.”

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