Early start serves ups and downs as Lowry and Power hang tough in Tulsa

The Irish duo were handed another tough draw Friday morning with the winds playing havoc at Southern Hills. But both managed to make it safely to the weekend
Early start serves ups and downs as Lowry and Power hang tough in Tulsa

Shooting (through) the breeze: Shane Lowry, of Ireland, hits from the fairway on the 16th hole during the second round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at Southern Hills Country Club, Friday, May 20, 2022, in Tulsa, Okla. 

Shane Lowry and Séamus Power both popped their names as high as top-10 on Friday only to get blown a bit back off the PGA Championship leaderboard.

Lowry got off to a quick start with two birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 despite the strong gusting morning winds to reach 2-under, but three-putts on the second and eighth holes and a bunker mishap that led to a double on the fourth dropped him back to 2-over par for the day and overall.

“I don’t feel like I did much wrong today to be honest,” said Lowry. “I’m a little disappointed with my score because I would have like to have been around par or better. Would have been a nice spot going into the weekend. Got a bit of work tomorrow. I’m just hoping that the afternoon guys don’t go out and get too nice a weather and shoot too low a score. I hope I’m within touching distance.” 

Power is within touching distance on a major weekend for the first time. He made birdies after the turn on 10 and 13 to get into red figures, but a bogey on No. 15 left him at even par overall after a Friday 69 – his first sub-70 round in a major championship.

“It was tough going at the start; those gusts early were nasty,” said Power, who played his front side in even with a bogey and a birdie. “It was a lot of good stuff and I could’ve been a little bit better down the stretch there but overall I’m pleased.

“I was able to make a couple of birdies but it was tough going on the greens. They were bumpy and obviously not having been rolled or cut they needed to do that with the gusts this morning.”
At level par, Power has his first real chance to put himself in the mix in only his second major start. He gained a little experience playing the weekend at the Masters, but he’ll be having to contend with a different Southern Hills the next two days with temperatures expected to drop and the wind completely shift to the opposite direction.

“The weekend is going to be different,” he said. “I think it's going to go a different direction. I have not seen the course before; it's going to be try to learn on the go and do the best you can with it.

“Your kind a hoping it not going to get too far away and obviously Rory has the ability to do the same again. But you’re hoping that nobody gets too far in front. I’m going to need a couple of good rounds over the weekend and see what happens.” 

Power made a 36-footer for birdie on 10 to kickstart he back nine and added another on the par-5 13th. But in general he’s struggled with his mid-range putting, which is critical considering the winds and wear on the greens make it essential to capitalize on opportunities.

“Sometimes it’s frustrating from 120 yards to hit in 15 or 20 feet left or right of the hole but then when you get up there you’ve got a reasonable chance even if it doesn’t go in,” he said. “But I haven’t been able to make enough of those 15- or 20-footers as of yet. Hopefully they can get a roller on those greens and I can get the speed down a bit better and make a few of them tomorrow.” 

Lowry looked poise to put himself firmly into the mix when to slipped into the top 10. The wind and Southern Hills’ inconsistent bunkers exacted a toll on him at the short par-4 fourth. His wedge from 120 got hit by a gust and found the short-sided greenside bunker. He next climbed out on the green but rolled back in. His next shot went 9 feet past the hole and he just missed his bogey try.

“To be honest, I feel like I hit six good shots there and made double; I definitely made four good shots and had a 10-footer for bogey,” he said. “It’s one of those, as I said at the start of the week, you have to take stuff like that on the chin and move on.

“I was doing all the right things today and (No.) 4 kills your momentum more than anything. You make a bogey you can kind of deal with it. You make a double it’s a kick in the you know what.” 

Lowry said the sand under the ball swallowed his club more than he expected.

“Dug my feet in and about and inch under there it’s like pure concrete,” he said. “There was more sand where my ball was. They’re very inconsistent. Not great.” 

His score leaves him on the back half of the field to make the cut, so Lowry was hoping the afternoon wave didn’t push the target further than Justin Thomas’ 6-under mark after consecutive 67s.

“It’s going to be a little colder (in the morning), a little bit of a breeze,” Lowry said. “Hopefully I can shoot something in the red and put myself there or thereabouts come Sunday. If I can go out and shoot, 2-, 3- or 4-under tomorrow, hope that gives me an opportunity on Sunday.”

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