Shane Lowry will not take his near-winning Honda Classic form into this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational while disclosing he also will bypass for a second year the Valero Texas Open in the week prior to next month’s Masters.
Not for a moment is Lowry throwing the toys out of his tournament’s pram following Sunday’s bitter second-place finish. No, Lowry’s simply sticking to the plans he had in place before teeing up last week at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens.
Lowry has contested this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational on four prior occasions from 2015 to 2021 and has missed the halfway cut each time. He’s not broken 70 in any of his eight rounds and is averaging 73.75 a round at Bay Hill in suburban Orlando.
“In working out my early schedule this year, we talked about Bay Hill and I just haven’t played well there, so we decided long ago that I would not be entering the event,” he said.
“Even after the outcome on Sunday, I want to stick to my schedule, and if it means having this week off so I’ll play the Players Championship next week where I’ve played well in the past, including a top-10 last year.
“I’m then playing Valspar the week after The Players.”
It will be Lowry’s second visit to the Innisbrook course, home of ‘The Snake Pit’, and where he shared 49th place in the 2018 Valspar event.
Lowry, and also for a second year in succession, will bypass contesting the Valero Texas Open in the week prior to the Masters, and this after also having missed the halfway cut at Augusta National when he has completed the week prior in San Antonio.
“I didn’t play in Texas last year and I’m going to stick with that decision again this year, and that’s to have the week off before The Masters,” he said.
“I am heading to Augusta the week before and we’ll spend two days and one night there. I did that last year and I feel it works well for me and it gives me a lot of time in the week of the tournament for things that I need to do rather than trying to squeeze in rounds during the days leading up to the Masters.”
Lowry’s agonising result last Sunday was rewarded with a jump of 15 places and back to World No. 35 where he had been on the Rankings at the start of 2021. However, the 37-year-old has now had nine second-place finishes in his pro career, including the 2016 US Open at Oakmont when Lowry went into the final day leading by one but had to settle for second behind Dustin Johnson.
Sunday’s latest ‘bridesmaid’ finish was no less a bitter pill to swallow for a number of reasons. It was Lowry’s first PGA Tour event of the year; he’d gallantly wiped out Daniel Berger’s five-shot overnight lead in as many holes and he was tied for the lead when the heavens opened as he made his way to the 72nd hole tee.
It didn’t help that Tour officials blatantly overlooked Berger’s ‘snail-like’ pace on the greens that, you could argue, eventually led to the final group being eventually caught in the downpour and nor was play halted as it could have been despite there being no threat of any electrical activity.
No, Lowry took the result bravely as he sought to end a 31-month winless drought since capturing the 148th Open Championship.
“It’s hard to take, to be honest. I feel like I’ve got the tournament stolen from me,” said Lowry through gritted teeth.
“I played the golf course perfectly to win the tournament, and that’s this game sometimes and that’s this level. He (Sepp Straka) finished well.
“It’s hard to win out here. It’s just hard. End of story. There is no point saying any different. You go out as I did, I played the golf to win the tournament but didn’t win.
“This is the PGA Tour and the top level of world golf, the standard is very high at the minute.
“Like the next 24 hours will be tough, but my kids are here and my family. I’ll get on with my life tomorrow and I’ll be fine.”
IRISH WORLD RANKINGS – As at 28th February, 2022
- Rory McIlroy – 5
- Shane Lowry – 35
- Seamus Power – 47
- Padraig Harrington – 141
- Jonathan Caldwell – 352
- Graeme McDowell – 399
- Niall Kearney – 470
- John Murphy – 490
- Tom McKibbin – 611