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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Lowry grinds out gritty 73 to stay in touch at Augusta

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Shane Lowry remains in the hunt to become the first Irishman ever to wear the famous Augusta National green jacket after grinding out a one-over par 73 on day two of the Masters.

The reigning Open Champion needed to be at his persistent and patient best, recovering from a double-bogey, bogey start to fire four birdies and advance to the weekend at even par.

“After the start I had, I’m really pleased with myself how I dug-in,” said Lowry. “The birdie on three was a huge lift and really helped to settle me down and from there I played pretty steady. The birdie on 12 was another boost, and how that eagle shot from the bunker on 13 didn’t drop was just amazing as it was just a perfect bunker shot.

“I then just played really steady and produced this fantastic wedge shot at the last. You can’t see the bottom of the flag from where I was but I’m told it nearly found the cup. So, to walk off with a birdie there on 18 was a huge boost heading to the weekend.”

Playing partner Justin Rose also found the grind difficult on day two but the Englishman was up for the task, signing for an even par 72 to remain out in front and seven clear of Lowry at seven-under par.

“The finger was getting closer to the button,” Rose laughed, having resisted going near it during his opening round where her recovered from two-over par through seven holes to post 65.

“It was a tough start today, poor tee shot on number one and had to chip out sideways, and then from that moment on, for the first six or seven holes I just kept leaving the ball on the greens but in really tough spots.

“I felt like I really hung in well and weathered that period of the round. Just little things were going wrong but didn’t hit the panic button and really pleased to turn it around. I made some great swings I felt round Amen Corner and hit a really aggressive tee shot on 13 and felt that was a good turning point for me.”

In terms of starts, it couldn’t have proved much worse for Lowry. Smack bang in the middle of the first fairway with wedge in hand, he sent his approach long and left of the opening green, trickling his third onto the putting surface before coming unstuck with the slower early speed, leaving his first putt well short before heading to the second hole with a double bogey.

The morning dew had clearly taken the sting out of the greens, with Lowry again fooled at the par-5 second where he left a long birdie putt well short and missed the subsequent effort for par.

Three-over through two holes and struggling, Lowry dug deep at the third, taking advantage of a good drive before zipping his second shot next to the hole for a routine birdie three. A hat-trick of pars followed with Lowry striping a drive down the seventh fairway as he looked to go on the offensive, but just as you thought momentum had swung in his favour, he again missed the green with wedge in hand before posting another bogey.

Having played the par-5’s in one-over on day one, Lowry had targeted Augusta’s scoring holes on day two but could only par the eighth before racking up further pars on 9 and 10. An errant drive off 11 brought the trees into play for his second; Lowry only able to advance his ball up the fairway before letting slip another par putt and dropping to three-over for the tournament.

To his enormous credit, Lowry again went to the well for water and came back with successive birdies on 12 and 13, holing a clutch 15 footer at Golden Bell before playing a delightful bunker shot off the back of the green on 13, leaving his ball stone-dead for a birdie ‘4’.

Having only needed 27 putts on day one, Lowry was unable to get the same return from the flat-stick on Friday with good chances missed on 14 and 15. He two-putted from the bottom of the slope on 16 but the Clara man would’ve been kicking himself for letting slip another great opportunity, this time a 10-footer on his penultimate hole of the day.

Not that he showed it – Lowry flinging his divot in delight at caddie Bo Martin on the final fairway after arrowing a stunning approach to two-feet that propelled him back to even par, seven shots behind playing partner Justin Rose who currently holds the lead at seven-under.

“Justin (Rose) has really opened the door today with his score but that’s how August is and all we can do now is wait and see what the guys in the afternoon do,” Lowry added. “I’m going off to enjoy some lunch, a little practice but now I’m excited about the weekend.”

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