Defending champ Lowry reignites title chances with 65 at Royal St. George’s

John Craven

Shane Lowry (Photo by Oisin Keniry/Getty Images)

Defending Open Champion Shane Lowry admits he was “very happy” with his day’s work after bouncing back from a one-over par opening effort with six birdies in a five-under 65 as he moved to within seven strokes of Louis Oosthuizen’s halfway lead at Royal St. George’s.

After a bogey-bogey start to his title defence on Thursday, Lowry was up and running with a tidy birdie ‘3’ at his second hole on Friday afternoon in a round that saw him hit 12 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens; a much improved performance, albeit with the 34-year old admitting he was probably a little harsh on himself following his day one efforts.

“I played lovely golf today and put myself in the fairway, and when I did, I gave myself chances and managed to hole a few putts, so I’m very happy with my day,” Lowry said.


“To be honest, I sat down this morning with my coach Neil and we talked through yesterday’s round. I felt I was a bit hard on myself yesterday. I didn’t play as bad as I felt I did. So just kind of trusted myself to go out there today and shoot a good score, and thankfully I did.”

Lowry was disappointed with how he drove the ball on day one but following a post-round range session with coach Neil Manchip on Thursday afternoon, he went into round two believing he’d unlocked the key to finding fairways with his Srixon driver. His opening tee-shot flying wide right suggested otherwise.

“I didn’t feel like I hit my driver very well yesterday and I stood up hit it 40 yards right on the first today, so I felt like I had it fixed,” he laughed. ” I didn’t hit many drivers out there today. I hit a lot of 3-irons off the tee.”

But aside from that one swing on the first, Lowry was pretty close to perfect from the tee on Friday and the Clara man knows that if he’s to have any chance of matching great friend Padraig Harrington and defending his Claret Jug, he’ll need to be attacking from the fairways over a sunny weekend in Sandwich.

“I feel like if I’m on the fairway and I have an iron shot, no matter what club it is, obviously 6-iron down, I feel like I can give myself chances,” he said. “We just focused on putting ourselves in good positions off the tee and it paid off.

“I think as it firms up over the weekend it’ll suit me a little bit better as well. That’s kind of probably going to be my strategy at the weekend. We’ll see how windy it gets or how many drivers I need to hit. It’s not like I can’t hit it. I’m still hitting it okay. But, yeah, I just felt like I struggled with my driver.”

In the company of leader Louis Oosthuizen firing on all cylinders with a record-breaking 36-hole Open total of 11-under par, and Spaniard Jon Rahm who outscored Lowry by a shot with a six-under 64, the Offaly man admits that the company helped in his second round efforts too; more of the same the order of the day Saturday as he looks to put himself in position for a Sunday tilt at the title.

“Yeah, it helps you. Whenever one in the group is playing well, it helps,” Lowry said.

“I’m sure I helped the lads playing well and getting off to a good start and making a few birdies. That spurs them on as well. Kind of bounce off each other. It does help whenever one in the group is playing well.

“I was out there trying to get as many shots as I could back on Louis towards the end because I knew he was going be the leader going into the weekend. Yeah, we had a great day out there. 16-under for a three ball around St George’s is pretty good. I’m not sure too many other three balls will do better than that!”

From an Irish perspective, Lowry was joined in the weekend rounds by Padraig Harrington who carded a two-under 68 to make the cut at even par, the same 36-hole tally as Rory McIlroy who carded a second successive 70 to sit in a tie for 53rd overnight. Darren Clarke missed the cut at six-over.

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