He might have had just one top 10 finish since last year’s US Open but Shane Lowry is heading into the meat of the summer with renewed confidence despite a mediocre week at Erin Hills.
The Clara man looked set for a rare sub-par round on a challenging final day when he made two birdies and two bogeys in winds gusting well over 25 mph and went to the 18th on level par for the day.
After a perfect drive, a birdie looked likely but he topped his three-wood approach into the deep fescue, short left of the green and ran up a frustrating bogey six for a 73 that left him tied for 47th in the clubhouse on three-over par.
It wasn’t the finish the 30-year old was looking for, but he believes that an improved putting performance in the final round, coupled with some promising form in the recent BMW PGA and the Memorial Tournament, bodes well for his trip to the French Open next week followed by the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Portstewart and The Open at Royal Birkdale.
“Since Augusta I have started holing a few putts, even out there today I had some really tricky six, seven, eight footers and I started to hole them,” Lowry said of his improved form on the greens.
“Yesterday I probably didn’t hole many at all but you will have days like that. I’ve definitely started to putt better and I think that’s the main difference.
“My game, I feel like when I have driver or an iron in my hand I am going to hit a good shot and that’s a great position to be in.
“I just need to keep that going. I’ve a week off and then I’m going to France to see what I can do there.”
As for his round, a closing bogey took some of the gloss off an otherwise excellent performance.
“I’ve a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, even though I’m playing for 35th or 40th or whatever it was,” a disappointed Lowry said.
“To bogey the last is very disappointing because I really grinded hard today.
“It was so tough out there with strong winds and tough pin positions but I played great, holed out great, putted lovely, did everything well.
“I suppose I did most things well all week and could be standing here in a different scenario, a different position, if I just had of got a few breaks and maybe holed some putts along the way.”
Lowry birdied the first for the first time all week, rolling a nine footer for his four before handing that shot straight back at the tricky second, three-putting from 15 feet.
With a southerly wind gusting to 25 mph, he chipped and putted for pars at the third and fifth, the birdied the eighth from eight feet to get back to level.
A bogey at the ninth was no great drama as the treacherous par three was playing 172 yards to a back right pin position into a stiff crosswind.
Lowry’s nine-iron almost crowned the top tier but then slid into the deep swale right of the green and down a slope.
A bogey was inevitable when he failed to hold the green with his chip. But after two hard-fought, two-putt pars at the 10th and 11th — he had to convert four and a half footers each time — he chipped dead from short of the par-three 13th to remain level for the day, then made an eight-footer for par at the 15th to go to the last level for the day.
“All in all, I suppose it’s a pretty decent week,” he said. “It is just a bit disappointing to bogey the last, that was 10 minutes ago and I am still a bit annoyed.”
Looking forward to the next two months, he said: “We all know Majors are a different kettle of fish and it is tough golf.
“You play in the weekend of a Major and you know you are never too far away from a good week, I am playing nicely and I have got the French Open, the Irish Open and the Open coming up in the next month and then obviously the PGA after that, so a big couple of months coming up and I feel like my game is in decent condition.”
His share of sixth in the BMW PGA at Wentworth last month remains his lone top 10 finish since he finished second in last year’s US Open at Oakmont.
But he believes he turned the corner, especially with his putting, after the Masters and now feels ready to start pushing on again in his career.
World No 5 Jordan Spieth also believes his best form is not far away after a closing 69 left him on one-over par for the championship, just inside the top 40.
“I think I hit 17 greens today which was just awesome in these conditions,” said Spieth.
As for Erin Hills, which many believe was too easy a US Open test given the soft conditions and the wide fairways, Spieth was happy with the test and the USGA’s set-up of the course.
“Chambers was tough with the greens, and then last year they had a tough Sunday,” he said of Oakmont and the Dustin Johnson moving ball incident and ruling.
“I thought that the USGA did a phenomenal job this week of allowing the golf course to be what it is and play the way it’s supposed to play; not trying to do anything to hold any kind of standard.
“Instead, they created an environment where if you play well, you can score, and if you don’t, then it can go the other way.”
He added: “It’s tough going to two new venues in three years that they’ve never used before.
“That’s a difficult thing to do, and I thought— I hate to say it’s the most surprising thing — but I thought it was really well done.”
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