Shane Lowry surges into share of lead with brilliant 65 at Wentworth

Joint-leader Matt Fitzpatrick hits out at DeChambeau’s ‘bomb and gauge’ approach

Ireland’s Shane Lowry plays a shot to the 18th green on day two of the PGA Championship at Wentworth Golf Club in Surrey. Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images

After Thursday’s opening round of 67 in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Shane Lowry put much of his good play down to an old putter he had “whipped out of the cupboard” and that club did not let him down on Friday as he carded a bogey-free round of 65.

That leaves the 2019 British Open champion tied for the second round lead with Matt Fitzpatrick at 12 under par. The pair have a one-shot lead over Tyrrell Hatton, the overnight joint-leader recovering from a bogey on the first to return a 67.

On a perfect morning in Surrey with soft greens and fairways, Lowry took full advantage of the scoreable conditions. Starting on the ninth the Offalyman birdied the 12th, 13th, 17th and 18th to move his way up the leaderboard early on.

Lowry came into this week off the back of a missed cut at the Irish Open two weeks ago but he seems to have put that poor form firmly behind him as he made the tough Wentworth layout look easy with further birdies at the fourth, fifth and seventh to get to seven under par for the day and sign for a round of 65.


The 33-year-old was two shots behind Fitzpatrick when he finished his round with the five-time European Tour winner threatening a course record after a run of two birdies and an eagle in three holes at the start of his back nine.

However, at the eighth – his final hole of the day – he found the water left of the green with his approach and wound up with a double bogey six to match Lowry’s round of 65 for 12 under par.

Lowry was runner up in this event in 2014 and has recorded three other top-10 finishes, but needed an extra push to confirm his place in the field.

“I felt like I needed a bit of a break to be honest but I decided to come late on Sunday night when I was watching the news back home and it said we were going to go under a stricter lockdown,” he explained. “I texted my caddie Bo, ‘Do you fancy going this week?’ and I think he was down at the pub having a pint so wasn’t too happy.”

Lowry admitted the focus on distance precipitated by Bryson DeChambeau had affected his approach, but a skins game against Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington on Wednesday had helped him get back on track. “I just found a bit of rhythm,” he added. “All the talk is about hitting the ball as far as you can these days, instead of just hitting the shots you need to.

“I’m a professional golfer, but I’m best when I’m playing from the middle of the fairway, as opposed to playing from the rough.”

Lowry will contest next week’s CJ Cup in Las Vegas after belatedly being granted an invite. He had previously been turned down for an invite for the tournament, which was moved from South Korea to Vegas due to the Covid-19 pandemic, despite his status as a reigning major champion. “Puzzles me, as well,” he added with a smile. “I’ve got a nice piece of silverware at home they obviously know about.”

Meanwhile Fitzpatrick noted with dismay the opening 62 from US Open winner DeChambeau during the current PGA Tour event also in Vegas: “I’m fed up of seeing everyone talk about it,” Fitzpatrick said of DeChambeau’s “bomb and gauge” approach.

“I’m going to be biased because I’m not quite the longest, but at Winged Foot - fair play to him, he won (the US Open) and shot six under — the fairways were tight as hell and I drove it brilliantly, I actually played pretty well, and I’m miles behind.

“He’s in the rough and miles up and he’s just hitting wedges everywhere. It just makes a bit of a mockery of it I think. I looked at ShotTracker yesterday, some of the places he hit it and when he’s on, there’s no point, is there? It doesn’t matter if I play my best, he’s going to be 50 yards in front of me off the tee and the only thing I can compete with him is putting, and that’s just ridiculous.”

DeChambeau topped the driving distance category on the PGA Tour last year with an average of 322 yards, while Fitzpatrick was 121st with an average of 294. Asked if he wanted the game’s governing bodies to limit the distance achieved by modern equipment, Fitzpatrick added:

“I really hope they do. In my opinion it’s not a skill to hit the ball a long way. I could put on 40 pounds. I could go and see a biomechanist, I could put another two inches on my driver and I could gain 40 yards. But the skill in my opinion is to hit the ball straight. He’s just taking the skill out of it in my opinion. I’m sure lots will disagree. It’s just daft.”

European Tour BMW PGA Championship scoreboard

-12 Matthew Fitzpatrick (England) 67 65 Shane Lowry (Republic of Ireland) 67 65

-11 Tyrrell Hatton (England) 66 67

-9 Joachim B. Hansen (Denmark) 68 67 Victor Perez (France) 69 66

-8 Adri Arnaus (Spain) 66 70 Grant Forrest (Scotland) 69 67

-7 Scott Hend (Australia) 68 69 Eddie Pepperell (England) 67 70

-6 Ryan Fox (New Zealand) 68 70 Gavin Green (Malaysia) 67 71 Patrick Reed (USA) 70 68

-5 Tommy Fleetwood (England) 71 68 Julien Guerrier (France) 72 67 David Horsey (England) 70 69 Andrew Johnston (England) 68 71 Masahiro Kawamura (Japan) 70 69 Marcus Kinhult (Sweden) 72 67 Wade Ormsby (Australia) 68 71 Ian Poulter (England) 69 70 Robert Rock (England) 69 70 Matthias Schwab (Austria) 68 71 Jordan L Smith (England) 72 67 Sami Valimaki (Finland) 72 67

-4 Garrick Higgo (South Africa) 69 71 David Howell (England) 72 68 Alexander Levy (France) 72 68 Andy Sullivan (England) 71 69 Matt Wallace (England) 69 71

-3 Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Thailand) 71 70 Martin Kaymer (Germany) 73 68 Joakim Lagergren (Sweden) 69 72 Robert MacIntyre (Scotland) 73 68 Lee Westwood (England) 70 71

-2 Kristoffer Broberg (Sweden) 71 71 Steven Brown (England) 75 67 Sean Crocker (USA) 72 70 Pablo Larrazabal (Spain) 73 69 Thorbjorn Olesen (Denmark) 71 71 Renato Paratore (Italy) 73 69 Richie Ramsay (Scotland) 71 71 Jeunghun Wang (Korea Republic) 72 70 Bernd Wiesberger (Austria) 70 72 Danny Willett (England) 71 71

-1 Thomas Aiken (South Africa) 75 68 Michael Bullen (England) 71 72 Thomas Detry (Belgium) 72 71 Victor Dubuisson (France) 72 71 Nacho Elvira (Spain) 74 69 Stephen Gallacher (Scotland) 72 71 Padraig Harrington (Republic of Ireland) 72 71 Romain Langasque (France) 71 72 Graeme McDowell (Northern Ireland) 73 70 Thomas Pieters (Belgium) 72 71 Justin Rose (England) 68 75 Shubhankar Sharma (India) 73 70 Matthew Southgate (England) 70 73

Par Christiaan Bezuidenhout (South Africa) 72 72 Oliver Fisher (England) 72 72 Ross Fisher (England) 72 72 Soren Kjeldsen (Denmark) 73 71 Matthieu Pavon (France) 71 73 Tapio Pulkkanen (Finland) 71 73 Kalle Samooja (Finland) 71 73 Joel Stalter (France) 76 68 Erik Van Rooyen (South Africa) 76 68 Fabrizio Zanotti (Paraguay) 71 73

+1 Dean Burmester (South Africa) 73 72 Lorenzo Gagli (Italy) 76 69 Benjamin Hebert (France) 69 76 Rasmus Hojgaard (Denmark) 70 75 Jazz Janewattananond (Thailand) 73 72 Maximilian Kieffer (Germany) 72 73 Kurt Kitayama (USA) 74 71 Mikko Korhonen (Finland) 73 72 David Law (Scotland) 72 73 James Morrison (England) 70 75 Adrian Otaegui (Spain) 75 70 Aaron Rai (England) 68 77 Jason Scrivener (Australia) 72 73

+2 Lucas Bjerregaard (Denmark) 75 71 Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spain) 73 73 Mike Lorenzo-Vera (France) 75 71 Guido Migliozzi (Italy) 73 73 Chris Paisley (England) 72 74

+3 John Catlin (USA) 74 73 Ashley Chesters (England) 73 74 Justin Harding (South Africa) 66 81 Joost Luiten (Netherlands) 72 75 Callum Shinkwin (England) 73 74

+4 Alexander Bjork (Sweden) 77 71 Scott Jamieson (Scotland) 75 73 Min Woo Lee (Australia) 71 77 Edoardo Molinari (Italy) 73 75 Alvaro Quiros (Spain) 71 77 Sebastian Soderberg (Sweden) 73 75 Brandon Stone (South Africa) 76 72 Marc Warren (Scotland) 74 74

+5 Richard McEvoy (England) 77 72 Justin Walters (South Africa) 77 72 Paul Waring (England) 73 76 Oliver Wilson (England) 72 77

+6 Gaganjeet Bhullar (India) 73 77 Nicolas Colsaerts (Belgium) 76 74 David Drysdale (Scotland) 74 76 Lucas Herbert (Australia) 77 73 Sam Horsfield (England) 74 76 Ashun Wu (China PR) 79 71

+7 Nino Bertasio (Italy) 75 76 Jorge Campillo (Spain) 76 75 Branden Grace (South Africa) 76 75

+8 Julian Suri (USA) 77 75 Jeff Winther (Denmark) 78 74

+11 HaoTong Li (China PR) 82 73 Haydn Porteous (South Africa) 80 75

+13 George Coetzee (South Africa) 74 83 16 Andrea Pavan (Italy) 80 80 36 Thomas Bjorn (Denmark) 80