Shane Lowry left Augusta National with a smile thanks to a final-day ace but it masked the disappointment of not playing to his potential at The Masters.
Lowry was one of three players (Davis Love III and Louis Oosthuizen were the others) to ace the par-three 16th on Sunday, earning him a commemorative crystal bowl from the tournament. While that shot will be a treasured memory, there was the series of “what-ifs” after a tie for 39th finish.
Lowry, now up one place to 31 in the world rankings, had been right in the mix after an opening four-under-par 68 left him in a tie for second.
Over the next three days he steadily fell away with rounds of 76, 79 and 75 to finish 10 over par, 15 shots behind champion Danny Willett.
Like Willett, Lowry was making just his second appearance at the Masters and the Esker Hills golfer, now starting a three-week break before returning at Quail Hollow, feels the better for his experience at a course he adores but has yet to fully master.
“Every day you play this course you learn something new, whether it’s how quick putts are or what side you should be missing it on certain pins,” Lowry said.
“This is my first Sunday around here so it’s my first time playing the Sunday pins. I definitely learned a bit from a few different pins, and hopefully it’s something I can use again next year.
It’s hard to say, ‘Yeah, I could win the Masters someday’ but I do feel like I could come here and contend. If you can contend, you can win.
“And I feel like I can come here and potentially win this some day. It might take a few more years’ experience, I might give myself a good chance next year; who knows what’s around the corner? I just have to worry about this year first.”
Lowry accepted his short game let him down last week and that was what was separating him from being a Masters champion.
“I’m not going to shy away from it: I do feel I could do well around here. I showed it for quite a while in the past week. It’s definitely a course that suits me. My chipping wasn’t 100%, which is disappointing because it’s the best part of my game. And I didn’t hole enough putts — other than that it was perfect!
“I drove the ball well, my iron play was good, I just needed to sharpen up around the greens and it could have been a better week. What separates you from being a Masters’ winner? If you putt the lights out, whoever putts the best, wins most weeks. It’s something my putter hasn’t been doing.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved