Lowry turns it round to stay in major hunt

WHEN he drove into a bush at the second and took a penalty drop on the way to a double bogey six, Shane Lowry began to wonder if he could even break 80 in yesterday’s second round of the Open Championship at St Andrews, let alone finish among the top 30 by the end of proceedings.

Commendably, the 22-year-old Offaly man buckled down to his task and demonstrated his increasing maturity in getting round in 73 for a three under par total of 141 which will leave him far better placed than he could possibly have hoped for when the second round is completed this morning.

One of the most impressive aspects of Lowry’s gradual but steady progress in the professional game has been the easy, friendly way he carries himself with friend and stranger alike. Certainly, no media question or request is too much while the St Andrew’s galleries have really taken to him. All the indications are that he will depart his first major championship with another substantial cheque and with his confidence growing all the time.

“I was a bit disappointed with the way things went today,” he claimed. “We had the wind and the rain with us going out and I tried not to make stupid mistakes – then I made a double on the second. I just kept plugging away and telling myself pars were good.”

Little did he know that by the end of the day that would be an understatement. Lowry’s burly frame was safely in the clubhouse when the worst of the weather arrived and he could sit back and reflect on an excellent finish to his round.

“To make birdie on 16, a good par on 17, and birdie 18 is very satisfying,” he said.

That finishing hole of 357 yards is quickly becoming Lowry’s favourite at the Old Course. He was the first to drive the green there on Thursday and yesterday he was pin high off the tee and very nearly holed a delightful little chip. He got a great cheer from a large contingent of friends from Clara after making his birdie and tossed his ball to them only to fly it over their heads and strike the window of a nearby house!

That late run, of course, was to prove priceless as the day went on and the outcome was something that he couldn’t have envisaged.

“As I walked off the second green, I was thinking to myself – how am I going to break 80?” he related.

“It’s good to make the cut here in my first major and hopefully I can push on over the weekend and I really do feel like I can. Everything about the tournament is different but it is still just me and the golf course. I’m just going out there to shoot as good a score as I possibly can. With a couple of rounds in the 60s, I think I could finish well up there if I keep on playing the way I am and I manage to hole a few putts.

“I feel like I’ve matured over the last 12 months. This is where you want to be, isn’t it? Hopefully if I can stay inside the top 100 in the world ranking, I will be in the US PGA next month, I’m really looking forward to that.”

And his target going into the weekend?

“Two 63s and the claret jug,” he laughed. “No, I never set an objective. You just go out and you try to play as best you can every day. If it is 63 or 73, I have still tried over every shot and I tried my best out there today. I feel like I handled myself well.”

Colm Moriarty thought his Open was at an end when he completed his second round in 73 for one over but he has now achieved his ambition of playing all four rounds. Further good news for Moriarty is that he has received an invitation into the 3 Irish Open at Killarney at the end of the month but next week it’s back to the reality of the European Challenge Tour in Essex.

Gareth Maybin’s 76 left him four over and he missed the cut.


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