Like a duck to water and all of that. Séamus Power has taken to the big time majors as if they’ve been waiting for him.
A month after making his debut in the Masters – for a tied-27th finish – the comfort level would seem even more in this 104th US PGA Championship, where a second round 69 for a midway total of level par 140 moved the 35-year-old Waterford man into position to eye a weekend charge.
“Yeah, it wasn’t bad,” acknowledged Power of manufacturing a sub-par round in difficult, windy conditions that had players and caddies second-guessing club selection at times.
That Power and bagman Simon Keelan committed to their numbers was clear in a well-thought out round that yielded three birdies and two bogeys. "It was tough going, especially early on when the wind was really whipping at the start, and then the greens obviously aren't as smooth because they weren't able to roll them.
“Overall, I’m pretty pleased. It could have been one or two better, but overall not bad,” said Power of his day’s work.
Power lay down a marker early on in his round with a wonderful iron approach shot to 18 inches on the third hole, only to give it back to the course on the third where he found the rough down the right and couldn’t find the putting surface with his approach.
Having turned in level par on his round (one-over for the championship), Power made inroads with a 35-footer for birdie on the 10th hole and holed from five feet for another birdie on the 13th. He suffered a bogey on the 15th, where he found the left rough and then saw his approach finish in the greenside bunker from where he failed to get up-and-down, and then parred his way in for a good day’s work.
“To be honest, this morning you were kind of hoping the forecast was going to be wrong with the wind, but they were kind of spot on. But yeah, you kind of knew where it was going to be, especially today. The weekend is going to be different. I think it’s going to go to a different direction. I have not seen the course before; it’s going to be to try to learn on the go and do the best you can with it.
“It’s trying to then get into a spot where you can get it up-and-down and then try to hit it into a spot where you can make a putt. It’s kind of a constant thing. There’s no real shots off, there’s no real easy shots out there, so it’s just constantly stay on it and make sure you do your homework and make sure you know what you’re doing exactly before you try it,” explained Power of how patience and strategy came into play in plotting a way around.
For Shane Lowry, there was again frustration in a round which started off so well only to unravel with a double-bogey six from nowhere on the fourth hole, his 13th of the day after starting on the 10th in the two-tee start policy in operation.
Lowry – who shot a second round 72 for 142 to comfortably survive the cut into the weekend where he will have an opportunity to make inroads – played beautifully early in his round, comfortably finding the green in two on the Par 5 13th and seeing his eagle putt edge the hole for a tap-in birdie.
He followed with another birdie on the Par 3 14th, his approach hitting the front of the green and rolling up to 15 feet from where he sank the putt.
But Lowry’s drive on the second hole, his 11th, drifted right. “Fore” he roared, although the ball never troubled the galleries down that side and found the rough. His approach managed to find the green but he was 50 feet right of the pin and his first putt ran some 10 feet by the hole and he failed to convert the par putt.
Still, Lowry was in good shape in the championship. But the big number he had sought to avoid came from nowhere on the dangerous Par 4 fourth hole, one which defied its length of just 366 yards by piling misery on a number of players. Lowry was one of them.
From the fairway, Lowry’s approach shot pitched just left of the flag but wickedly spun off the green and into a greenside bunker. Lowry’s bunker recovery was undercut, though. It initially found the green only to stall and then roll back down the slope and back into the trap.
Lowry's next bunker shot finished 10 feet past the hole and he missed the bogey putt, ultimately running up a double-bogey six. Another bogey came on the eighth as he came home in 39 strokes for his 72 to reach the midpoint on 142, eight strokes behind clubhouse leader Justin Thomas.
But at least with the weekend ahead to try to make amends.