Shane Lowry’s on-again, off-again love affair with The Players Championship continued after failing to recreate his day one fireworks in Ponte Vedra in Florida.
Lowry’ second round two-over par 74 was not as bright as his 68 completed a day earlier in near darkness but the Clara golfer is safely into the final two rounds of the €12.55m event at TPC Sawgrass It saw Lowry drop from an opening round share of third place into a tie for 22nd as his troubles with the short-stick returned on Friday morning.
Lowry made his Players Championship debut in 2015 but missed the cut. He played all four rounds a year later, thanks to the superb springboard of an opening day 65 where he eventually finished tied 16th. The following year in 2016 Lowry missed the cut and he returned in 2017 to play all four day, finishing just inside the top-50. In 2018, the Irishman stuck to a bizarre script in missing the cut with scores of 73 and 74.
And now Lowry’s Players record continued as he is guaranteed himself two additional rounds with his 36-hole tally of 142 strokes a second best starting two days, though nine shots more than on route to that T16th in 2016.
Lowry’s second round, kick-started from the 10th, was a mix of two birdies and twice as many bogeys. He dropped two shots over his outward nine with bogeys at the 14th and 18th hole before making the turn with birdies at the first, where Lowry holed a 22-foot gem, and fourth holes where he sent a 14-footer to the bottom of the cup, while there was dropped shots on the third and seventh holes.
Up front, Bryson DeChambeau’s name was ominously just three shots off the lead only five days after capturing Arnie’s event in suburban Orlando. The new World No. 6 commenced his second day mirroring Rory McIlroy’s efforts off the 10th tee a day earlier but while McIlroy was way left off the tee, DeChambeau sprayed his shot 267-yards right.
And while he managed to advance his second shot, it took DeChambeau four srokes from 20-yards left of the green in taking a double-bogey ‘6’ and the frustration was for there all to see
“Oh, I was frustrated, definitely,” he said. “You don’t expect to do that the first hole out. I was especially hitting it pretty good this morning, and then you go out there, you hit one and you squeeze one right and it goes pretty far right. You don’t hit your second shot where you need it to be and mess up.
“So, you just aren’t feeling comfortable. I wasn’t feeling as comfortable as I should have been feeling, and unfortunately, that’s the way my day started.”
And after his pre-tournament talk of maybe playing his tee shot over the water at 18th and to the right of the ninth was stopped by officials, DeChambeau has played the 18th hole conservatively hitting two near 260-yard 3-wood tee shots.
Sharing sixth-under with DeChambeau is fellow American Denny McCarthy who nailed an 8-hole to ace the par-3 third hole on route to a second round of 69. Two years ago, West Waterford’s Seamus Power pulled the same club to hole out at the third on day three at TPC Sawgrass.
But leading the way heading into moving day is the ever-green Lee Westwood, fresh off his runner-up finish at the Arnie. The 47-year old fired a bogey-free six-under par round of 66 to reach nine under par, one clear of compatriot Matt Fitzpatrick and two ahead of first-round leader Sergio Garcia and American Chris Kirk.
“I care less about the outcomes,” said Westwood of his recent hot spell. “I still care about my performance, and that in turn leads me to work as hard as I’ve always worked. But I’ve been working with a psychologist for a few years now, and we just focus on the process, we don’t focus on the outcomes and things we can’t control. The only thing I can control when I go out there is the process and making sure I have fun. I make sure I have fun.”
Rory McIlroy made an early exit from the competition, adding a 79 to his opening 75 to miss the cut at 10-over par. Graeme McDowell missed the cut by three strokes at three-over par.
Full scoring HERE