Shane Lowry steadies ship to remain on course

Shane Lowry survived some of the toughest conditions of his career last night to stay in the Masters mix on a testing day at Augusta National.

Starting the day in a tie for second place on four-under par, two shots behind first-round leader Jordan Spieth, Lowry overcame a bogey-bogey start to book a late tee time in today’s third round.

It might have been a four-over-par round of 76 but the level-par score for 36 holes was a total he would have readily accepted going into the first major of 2016.

A frisky wind and really tough pin positions meant the Masters field was up against it throughout the day at Augusta National but, once over his difficult start, Lowry did enough to stay in touch at the business end of the leaderboard. His round featured a double bogey at the par-three 12th, five bogeys, including at the last and three birdies.

“It was tough. I didn’t do myself any favours at the start. It was purely down to a bad mental error, I felt like I hit a half decent shot into the first, felt the wind flicked a bit right to left on me. Then just a mental error on the second, so I started with two bogeys.

“But I felt I fought really hard today. Really disappointed with the bogey at the last. If I had have been standing here on one under I would have been really happy but, you know, I’m still in a decent spot going into the weekend.

“It just depends where Jordan or any of the leaders get to. I’m pretty sure they’re not going to get too many under par because it’s very difficult out there. That’s some of the toughest golf I’ve played.”

Such were the conditions a four-over 76 was not as bad as it might have been and Lowry can feel satisfied he kept his composure throughout.

“There’s some pins you just can’t get to, You’ve got to be very disciplined and when you get your chances you’ve got to take them. I missed a great chance on 16 to go two-under, which would have been great but I did make a great par on 17. Every shot you have is just tough so it’s important to be mentally tough and strong. I felt I was okay today, even with the start I got off to.

“I felt I kept my head on quite well, didn’t get too annoyed with myself, played some golf. A little bit disappointed with a 76 but the two-round total is okay.”

His opening bogeys both came from missing greens from the middle of the fairway, hitting a left-side tree into the second green and the ricochet taking it deeper into the woods.

In previous seasons, such a start would have spelled calamity but hole by hole, Lowry settled himself down. A birdie putt lipped out at the third, but simply taking the par represented a small victory.

Lowry was steadying the ship admirably and he got his reward with a birdie at the ninth to claw a shot back and make the turn at three under. The back nine, though, came back to bite him. There was a dropped shot at 11 and Amen Corner got even worse for the Irishman at the par-three 12th, Lowry missing the green and instead finding flora, forcing a drop from where his chip was left short of the green on the way to double bogey.

That sent him back to level par for the tournament but, again Lowry did not fold. He rallied to a birdie at the par-five 13th and though a bogey immediately followed at 14, he bounced right back at 15.

At the par-three 16th, he hit an excellent tee shot with the hole on the right of the green but the 12-foot birdie putt could only skirt the hole and though he carded a good par at 17, the three-putt on 18 left a sour taste but nothing worse as Lowry heads into the weekend on level par.

“If you’d have offered me this on Wednesday evening I probably would have taken this. It’s just up to me to go out there and do what I can tomorrow and if I can give myself a chance on Sunday you never know.”

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