Shane Lowry’s defence of his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship crown sadly ended in the sands of a final hole greenside bunker.
Lowry was two-under par with two holes to play on day two when he bogeyed the par 4, 17th and then found himself finding a greenside bunker in playing a 3-wood second shot into the 18th.
The Clara golfer was just a matter of a few metres right of the hole and needing to play soft-landing shot but instead he ‘plugged’ his ball into the one-metre high wall of the bunker and virtually right under the grass verge atop of the bunker.
From here, Lowry only just managed to get his shot onto the fringe of the green but showed his frustration by slamming his wedge into the bunker and then on realising what he’d done he sought to the return the sand as he found it.
He then two-putted for a bogey ‘6’ to missing the cut in the Euro 6.3m event by a single shot.
A European Tour official indicated they will look at the incident but it would seem highly unlikely Lowry will be incur the Tour’s wrath given there was no damage to the grassed top surface of the bunker.
To his enormous credit, Lowry spoke with Irish Golfer Magazine before heading north and the short drive to Dubai, and where he will also tee-up in next week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
“Look, I was playing pretty steady for much of my round and it’s just unfortunate it finished in the manner it did,” he said.
“No-one wants to miss the cut in any event they tee-up and I’m no different, so it’s very disappointing and coming off such a great finish last week in Hong Kong.
“It’s been a great 12 months as Abu Dhabi HSBC champion and I will always have very fond memories of my victory. Hopefully, I can return next year and give it a better shot at a second Abu Dhabi success.”
It is second occasion in the four tournament victories Lowry has defended he has missed the halfway cut with the other event being his defence of the 2013 Portugal Masters.
Also, his 2016 defence of the WGC – Bridgestone Invitational was a non-cut event.
Italian Francesco Laporta, ranked 124th in the world, birdied his closing five holes in a round of a 63 to steal a one-shot lead at 10-under par from England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick (67).
World No. 1 Brooks Koepka, and playing in the company of Lowry, posted a pair of double bogey ‘6s’, and one of each nine in a round of 75 to fall back into a share of 35th place at three-under par.
“My timing was a bit off as I didn’t hit that many good shots the last 15 holes,” said the American.
“It was good to birdie the first two holes but other than that, it was a bit of a disaster.
“So, I’m going to go to the range and just figure it out, just a little bit of time.”
When quizzed if his knee was fine, Koepka replied: “No, no. I don’t know, everybody likes to make an excuse. It was just me.”
And Padraig Harrington was also joining Lowry in heading to Dubai in posting scores of 76 and 72 for a four-over par tally in his first event of the New Year.