Shane Lowry was headed straight to Georgia for two days of practice at Augusta National buoyed by a brilliant top-10 finish at the Players Championship in Florida. Lowry saved the best for the last day with five birdies in a four-under par 68 for a nine-under par showing and eighth position on the TPC Sawgrass course at Ponte Vedra.
The effort is Lowry’s highest finish in the Tour’s flagship event in seven appearances and a big confidence-builder with it also being Lowry’s best Tour finish since a T6 last August in Memphis.
“I went out there today feeling like, yeah, if I shoot 65, 64, I could do something special,” said Lowry, who’ll bank over $400,000 for the finish. “So, I’m pretty happy with the week in general because it’s not been the best run of form for me over the last while, and yeah, hopefully this is a bit of a momentum swinger and shift of momentum in the right direction going forward over the next few weeks.”
And there was no waiting round with Lowry, his caddy ‘Bo’ Martin and long-time coach, Neil Manchip awaiting Lee Westwood to finish before heading to nearby Jacksonville Airport for their private jet flight north to Augusta, GA.
“I have a busy week ahead of me as I’m actually going to Augusta this evening and playing Augusta tomorrow and Tuesday,” Lowry said.
“Lee Westwood is also joining us along with his son, and I’m taking my coach and we’re going to play. A couple of members kindly invited us. We’re going up there, I’m treating them as maybe a little practice rounds for the Masters, Masters not far away, then I go back to Palm Beach Tuesday evening for the Honda Classic pro-am Wednesday and play the Honda Thursday.”
The Honda Classic will be like a home venue for Lowry and for a second year the family are residing in rented premises less than five minutes from PGA National.
Lowry was decked out all in black, aside from white shoes, for the final round, starting at five-under and eight shots behind Lee Westwood, the overnight leader by two shots at 13-under. But while those about began to buckle, Lowry was steadfast splitting ,the opening fairway with a 319-yard drive to set-up a second shot to just five-foot for a first birdie.
Lowry picked up another birdie in sending a four-footer to the bottom of the cup at the fifth and then at the ninth, the second of the outward par-5s, he two-putted from 13-feet for a third birdie. The reigning Open Champion was then into a share of third walking off the 10th in seeing a 12-footer disappear for a fourth birdie of his day.
Six straight pars followed to the famed island-green 17th. Lowry’s ‘heart-in-your-mouth’ tee shot found the green, albeit some 50-foot from the flag with the 33-year old three-putting for a bogey ‘4’, dropping back into a share 10th spot at eight-under as Justin Thomas went two clear of the field at the 12th.
Thomas was seeing the hole like a proverbial bunker producing a stunning mid-round run from the ninth hole of birdie, birdie, eagle on 11 and birdie on 12 before collecting the title at 14-under par, one clear of runner-up Lee Westwood.
But before Thomas would see out his victory, Lowry made amends for his penultimate hole bogey, landing an imperious second shot into the 72nd to just three-feet, adding a fifth birdie to his round to complete an outright eighth finish at nine-under par.
- Full scoring HERE
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