Shane Lowry gets the chance to further sharpen his Masters preparations, contesting the opening two rounds of this week’s Honda Classic in the company of two Augusta National champions.
Lowry returned to Florida after spending two days playing Augusta National to find he’s been drawn to tee-up this week alongside Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson. Not only is it an Open Championship winning threesome but between them, Mickelson and Johnson own four Augusta National green members jackets.
‘Lefty’ won the Masters in 2004, 2006 and 2010 while Johnson captured the 2007 Masters, also joining Mickelson as an Open Champion in the Monday finish to the 2015 renewal at St. Andrews.
Lowry, along with his caddy ‘Bo’ Martin and long-time coach, Neil Manchip joined Lee Westwood with his caddy and fiancée Helen plus Westwood’s son, Sam, playing Augusta on Monday and Tuesday. According to Westwood, it was his son, Sam who won the money.
“Sam chipped-in on 18 to take the money,” said Westwood smiling. “We’ll not discuss the shots. I will say it’s as hard as I’ve seen Augusta play, even when it’s been the week of the Masters. It was cold Tuesday morning, 45, 50 degrees. It was playing long, and the greens were like rock. They were really releasing out. It was a tough couple of days to play Augusta. Sam shot 82 which is good as I set him a target of 83 and he chipped in on the last for birdie for 82, so he won the money.”
All six then headed to West Palm Beach Airport to prepare for this week’s $US7m event at PGA National at Palm Beach Gardens. It’s a ‘home’ event for Lowry as he and his wife, Wendy have again rented premises around a five-minute drive to this week’s host event.
Lowry is coming off his best finish on the new season and a best PGA Tour finish since last August while his eighth placed finish last Sunday at Tour HQ was a big lift up the European Ryder Cup rankings. And it was a timely jump-up in the European team rankings that did not go unnoticed by Europe’s captain, Padraig Harrington.
“I’ve been playing practice rounds here in the States with Shane and noticing first-hand how well he’s been playing,” said Harrington, a two-time Honda Classic champion.
“Shane has been playing probably the best golf I’ve ever seen him play of recent. He hasn’t been putting very well.
“As I’ve said about a few players, I’m never unhappy to see a player playing well but not quite get the results at this time of the year because I know they’re going to turn around for Shane, and I can see good form there, and when it does turn around, it’s going to be at the appropriate time of the year. It’s going to be coming into, as you said, the majors, and then following up into the Ryder Cup.
“Looking from the outside, you just tell Shane to just let it happen. It’s obviously very easy to say that, not as easy to do as a player. But he is playing very well tee to green, and I am keeping an eye on him like I am all the other players who are there or thereabouts. What is strange, if Shane does make the team automatically, he will be a rookie, but you do kind of think of him as a senior player.”
Joining Lowry and Harrington is Graeme McDowell
And there are also three Irish contestants for this week’s Kenya Open in Nairobi with the event back on the schedule after being cancelled a year ago due to the pandemic. Jonathan Caldwell and Gavin Moynihan are out first from the respective first and 10th tees, joined in the co-sanctioned European and Sunshine Tour event by Ardglass Cormac Sharvin.
IRISH TEE TIMES – Honda Classic (Irish time)
- Shane Lowry – 12.09pm
- Graeme McDowell – 12.20pm
- Padraig Harrington – 4.31pm
Full Kenya scoring HERE