Lowry recovers from fourth hole treble in gutsy opening 72 at US Open

Bernie McGuire
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Lowry recovers from fourth hole treble in gutsy opening 72 at US Open

Shane Lowry plays a shot on the second hole during the first round at the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, Calif. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Jeff Haynes/USGA)

Shane Lowry could be proud of a superb fight-back from a humbling early round triple-bogey with a gutsy one-over 72 on the opening day of the 121st U.S. Open Championship at Torrey Pines.

A ‘marine fog’, as it is referred to but more akin to a ‘pea souper’, rolled in off the Pacific Ocean delaying the start of play for 90-minutes with Lowry among those affected. As the skies brightened, Lowry responded in lighting-up the second hole with a 32-foot birdie bomb – the effort handing him an early share of third place.

Lowry, however, was then reeling in being forced to take an ‘unplayable’ penalty down the left side of the fourth fairway, the second longest of the par-4s. His third shot came up short of the green from where Lowry chipped but horribly four-putted from less than 10-feet for a shock triple-bogey ‘7’.

“I was ready for it, to make mistakes because it’s a U.S. Open,” Lowry said. “It was pretty poor by me four-putting the ball, but you take it on the chin and move on. I did it very well.”

From a share of third, Lowry was now tied in 50th place but not to be deterred as the Clara golfer pulled one back brilliantly landing a 202-yard second shot at the par-4 sixth to just four-feet for a birdie ‘3’. He made par at the next four holes before finding a greenside bunker left at the par-3 11th hole.

Lowry pulled off a great par save in finding another greenside bunker, on this occasion with his third shot at the par-5 13th, and then from 45-yards, he splashed out to just two feet for his ‘5’.

A third birdie of his round awaited at the next, the par-4 14th in holing a five-footer to be back inside the top-20. Lowry then closed off his day’s work with four closing pars, missing a five footer for birdie on the par-3 16th after a great approach. His round of 72 is his third lowest opening score in the championship.

“I could have birdied 16 and had a heck of a shot to shoot par today with a seven, it just shows me how well I’m playing. I’m happy with the way the day panned out after four,” Lowry added.

“It was obviously one of those and I came back quite well so I’m happy. One-over, you take it. It’s hard to hit fairways and hard to hit greens. I’m proud of myself and shows me where I’m at when I do play my best.”

And while Lowry struggled with both the longest club and also the shortest club in his bag, it was his irons that could take a bow. Lowry managed to hit half of 14 fairways and then on the greens, he had 31 putts but in between he found 12 of 18 greens in regulation.

And while Lowry chases a second Major championship trophy, Phil Mickelson’s quest for one major he’s never won was off to a struggling start with last month’s PGA Championship winner posting a four-over 75 to be sitting in a share of 96th overnight.

There was no such trouble for Rory McIlroy who fired four birdies and three bogeys in a one-under 70 that leaves him in a tie for 11th at one-under. With play suspended due to fading light, American Russell Henley signed for a four-under 67 to take the early lead, with South African Louis Oosthuizen also at four-under par with two holes to play of his opening round.

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