Three rounds in the company of Tiger Woods has Shane Lowry clearly excited heading into this week’s Masters. Lowry is teeing-up in a sixth Masters since making his debut in 2015 and coming off a best finish in last November’s rescheduled major at Augusta National.
To his enormous surprise, Lowry found himself grouped with the five-time Masters winning Woods and reigning US Amateur champ Andy Ogletree for the opening two rounds. Lowry then played alongside Ogletree and Ian Poulter on day three and then when the final round draw was released it was Lowry, Woods and Scottie Scheffler.
Woods produced an opening bogey-free 68 to Lowry’s pair of bogeys in a 74 while it was Lowry winning the day two honours posting a 69 to Woods’ 71. Then over the last day, it was Lowry shooting a 73 for an Augusta career best share of 25th place while Woods imploded at the par-3 12th hole taking a ‘12’ but then birdied five of the next six holes in a 76 to be just inside the top-40.
“It was pretty cool what I got to experience playing alongside Tiger in November and I got to see how he played his way around the golf course,” said Lowry. “I thought especially the first round he played was interesting because he kept it out of trouble, he plotted his way around and took care of the par 5s, that’s how he played.
“That’s the way to play Augusta National but it is easier said than done, it is way easier said than done.
“I feel like there are certain shots, like the second shot into the 15th hole, where the pin was at the front, and Tiger didn’t even take it on, he hit it over the green.
It is easy to say that and to say that’s what I am going to do but things change and when you are in the heat of the battle and the heat of the moment out there it is quite difficult to do certain things at certain times.
“What I did learn, and what was so helpful, was how Tiger goes about his business at Augusta and hopefully I can get to use it and hopefully if I get to the business end of the tournament come Sunday, I can draw on what I learned last November playing alongside Tiger and use that to do something good.”
Lowry is already ahead in terms of his preparations this coming week having spent two days playing the Georgia golfing gem straight after his superb eighth place finish at the Players Championship.
It’s something he’s not previously done in each of his prior Masters though if there’s one aspect of his game Lowry believes he needs to sharpen ahead of what will be a 31st career major, it will be his driving.
“I have never really driven it my best around Augusta,” he said. “Though in saying that, I felt I drove the ball well last November and I feel I am driving it as well as I ever have now. So, I am pretty confident with that aspect of my game and I am pretty happy hitting a high draw or a little cut so I am happy where that is.
“My Iron play is key but you need to get the ball on the fairway first so if you get it on the fairway you can attack some pins and hit it in certain portions of greens that you need to hit it.”
Lowry has long-time coach, Neil Manchip on hand this week along with wife, Wendy and chief supporter and daughter, Iris, all staying in a rented house for the week. And bizarrely for a second time in six months, Lowry returns to the Masters as the reigning Open Champion.
“I feel like it’s been a long time since I won The Open as a lot has gone in the world since July 2019,” he said. “So, yes I am still Open Champion teeing-up in the Masters this week and for a second time in some six months and we’ll see how that goes again.”
But then there’s nothing to match yet another drive down Magnolia Lane as Lowry insists.
“No, the emotion of driving into Augusta National and up Magnolia Lane has not changed and it’s still pretty cool,” he said. “Augusta National is somewhere where you will never get sick of going but in saying that the first-time playing Augusta is the best and the most special.
“Then after your first visit every subsequent visit is really good but the first time is incredible… though I will never get sick of driving up Magnolia Lane.”
LOWRY’S MASTERS FACT FILE
- Debut – 2015
- Appearances – 5
- Cuts made – 2 (2016 & 2020)
- Best Result – T25th 2020
- Scoring average – 73.64
- Rounds played – 14
- Lowest round – 68 (Round 3, 2020)
- Highest round – 79 (Round 3, 2016)
- Augusta earnings – $167,713
- Augusta Crystalware – Crystal Bowl 2016 Ace, Round 4, 16th hole (8-iron, 181-yards)