Sitting level par and losing ground on the leaders, Shane Lowry classified his up-and-down performance as “disappointing” heading to Sunday’s final round of the Masters.
Lowry took one step forward and one step back all the way around Augusta National on Saturday, making birdies at 2, 6 and 13 and bogeys at 3, 11 and 16 to finish right where he started at even par. He got the worst of the weather suspension, playing the first half of the back nine on a windy firm course and returning to struggle with the change in speed at the finish.
“Yeah, look, I came back out, and I left every putt short,” he said. “A chance on 15, obviously three-putted 16, a chance on 17 and 18 and left them all short, and they were pretty good putts, but it was just that the pace wasn't great.
“So yeah, disappointing. It did affect it, and it's going to make the course a lot easier for the guys playing the back nine now. When we turned going down 10, 11, 12, it was quite difficult just before the storm came in, so that's what disappoints me as I think the leaders will make some birdies around 13 and 15 and make it a little bit easier.” Lowry lamented his inability to muster any momentum again on Saturday as he’s failed to build off his 1-under start on Thursday that had him sitting tied eighth.
“The whole week for me has been like that,” he said. “I feel like I've been very close, been in contention, but I'm not. I'm disappointed. I feel like level par for these last three days is probably the worst score you could be on, but then I've got to take the positives from that, as well. If I can go out and shoot a decent number Sunday, I could have a very decent week for myself, and yeah, just move on.”
While he made birdies on 2 and 13 to finally get under par on Augusta’s scorable par-5s, Lowry has yet to get comfortable on the most important holes at Augusta to have any hopes of contending.
“Every time I play here I say the same thing,” he said. “You know, a couple tee shots I just don't really like. I don't like the tee shot on No. 2, and the tee shot on 13 I've struggled with in the past. Even 8, I seemed to put myself in a good position every day there this week, and not birdie it once.
“The second, I just struggle with it. You know, people automatically look at Augusta, and they think it's straightforward off the tee, but that second hole is a smelly tee shot.
“Some people come here, and they'll play those tee shots well and maybe they'll have a chance to do something special.”
Lowry pins his plight the last two days on poor course management as much as anything.
“I feel like I've made an awful lot of stupid errors, hit wrong clubs … not wrong clubs, just wrong decisions, just bad decisions a few times this week that have really cost me,” he said. “My start yesterday, like I played lovely the first day, shot 1-under, very happy with that, and then I go out and I start double bogey-bogey yesterday, and that's just stupid. It really is.
“Standing there in the middle of the first fairway with wedge in my hand and the whole of Augusta to the right and I miss it left, which is the only place you can't miss it, which it's kind of inexcusable. Then I bogey the second, and same, middle of the fairway with a wedge on No. 7 yesterday, as well. … That kind of frustrates me.”
Yet despite his frustration and being out of the reasonable mix for a green jacket, Lowry still thinks his game is trending toward better things this summer as the rest of the major season approaches in rapid succession. The progress that’s been building with his putting since his high finish at the Players Championship remains on track.
“My game has been very good. I've driven the ball okay, and I'm pleased with how I'm putting the ball at the minute,” he said. “I'm seeing my lines, and I'm pretty happy with that. I'm pretty happy where my game is at, like I really am.
“I feel like if I just stay patient over the next few months, that something special might happen.”