History beckons for Shane Lowry when he tees-up later this week at the 84th hosting of the Masters. Not only is Lowry looking to become the first Irish golfer to capture the Masters but given the cancellation of this year’s Open Championship, he now can join some of the absolute legends of the game in getting to wear a Augusta National members green jacket while maintaining proud custody of the Claret Jug.
The last to hold both Masters and The Open victory titles in the same year was Tiger Woods in 2005. Others in recent decades to have held both Masters and Open Championship titles at the same time were Mark O’Meara (1998), Nick Faldo (1990), Tom Watson (1977), Gary Player (1974), Arnold Palmer (1962) and Ben Hogan (1953). However, when it comes to his fondness for golf’s ‘cathedral in the pines’, Lowry confirms, similar to fellow Irishman Graeme McDowell, that it’s also been a love/hate relationship with Augusta National. True, Lowry has played in only four Masters to McDowell’s nine but Lowry has struggled in playing all four days just once in 2016 when he brilliantly aced the par-3 16th on the final day to win a large gleaming ‘Augusta National’ crystal bowl.
“I have never had much success around Augusta, so I don’t know how it is going to go, to be perfectly honest,” said Lowry. “I’m going there and preparing as best I can, maybe try to play a couple of holes a bit differently and try to figure it out.
“First, I will just see how long it’s playing, but I haven’t had much success there, so I will probably go there without many expectations but also try my best to do as well as I can. Obviously, I love the place. I think it is an amazing place to go and play golf, but as I said, I haven’t had any success around there at all really. I am hoping the change in the time of year will maybe do something different for me this year. I have never driven the ball well around there, which is strange because a lot of holes suit my shot shape. If I can drive it well around there, I feel I can do well.”
Missing this week for a first time in the 84th hosting of the Masters will be the 30,000-odd daily patrons and also Lowry’s proud father, Brendan. Brendan Lowry had walked all 72 holes last year at Royal Portrush supporting his son, including during the last day when he was handed an official armband and avoided the massive spectator congestion to walk inside the ropes with this journalist.
Then with just one hole to play, and with Lowry now 433-metres from triumph, Brendan was reluctant to walk inside the ropes down 18 but I insisted: “You have to!”. With a 72nd hole armband, he proudly headed off to the 18th tee. As his son chipped onto the final green, a now tearful Brendan found his way to the back of the green where he joyfully fell into the arms of Horizon Sports Management manager, Connor Ridge, Lowry’s long-time manager.
“Sadly, my dad won’t be here this week with me so he’ll be watching it at home for the first time, and he’s disappointed and so too is Wendy (wife),” said Lowry. “As much as I would love them to be present, it won’t be hard to get up for it, but it will be strange without crowds. I have not enjoyed it as much without crowds. I just miss them. I miss the buzz around the place and even in Houston, I came off the 18th green on Thursday, and there were only a few people hanging around and it was nice.
“It was nice to have a few people around creating a buzz, even if there were only 2,000 people. I have missed the crowds and I do feel we missed them at the bigger events. The PGA Championship and U.S. Open weren’t the same, but Augusta is Augusta and Augusta is different to everywhere else so no matter who is there watching this coming week and what goes on, someone is going to end up with the green jacket. So, everyone is going to be out there, especially me, fighting as hard as I can to get in contention and hopefully do something very special.”
- LOWRY’S AUGUSTA MOMENT – An Ace on 16.
Shane Lowry has played just 10 rounds of competition at Augusta National but there was one special moment in those 180 holes. It materialised on Sunday 10th April, 2016 when Lowry stepped onto the tee at the par-3 16th and was handed an 8-iron. He had bogeyed the hole the day prior but on this glorious spring Lowry’s shot landed on the green and then after rolling straight for some six-feet, his ball turned left and for the next 15-feet it was going nowhere but to the bottom of the cup.
“I remember I had been hitting good shots most of the day and hitting my targets also, so it was a fairly easy shot, and I felt I just hit a perfect shot right at the flag and obviously needed a little luck for it to go in the hole,” said Lowry. “I still have the ball and I have a picture up in my house and it’s a nice memento to have.”
Wearing all black, Lowry ‘high-fived’ playing partner, Patrick Reed who was wearing his Sunday red shirt. A short time later the duo were making their way up the 18th and there was another roar from the group two groups behind the Irishman and Reed.
“I remember standing on the 18th fairway, and I heard the roar again and it was Davis Love III who’d had a hole-in-one on 16, as well. I can still remember the roar. It was just mental and one of those you don’t hear anywhere else apart from Augusta. That would be my memory of all, Augusta roars.” And nine groups behind Love III and Louis Oosthuizen made it a trio of aces on 16 that day in April, 2016.
LOWRY MASTERS FILE
- Debut – 2015 (Missed cut)
- Number of Appearances – 4 (2015-2017 & 2019)
- Lowest round – 68 (T2nd day one, 2016)
- Highest score – 79 (Day three, 2016; Day two, 2017)
- Average score – 74.7 (10 rounds)
- Best finish – T39th (2016)
- Augusta Crystal ware – Large ‘Augusta’ crystal bowl, Ace 16th hole, day four, 2016)