Shane Lowry admitted he felt like the Honda Classic was stolen away from him by the weather as an untimely downpour on the par-five 18th harmed his chances of forcing a play-off.
The Offaly man was tied for the lead with one hole to play, but while eventual winner Sepp Straka managed to get his tee shot away before the rain came in, which allowed him to go for the green in two and two-putt for birdie, Lowry was not so fortunate.
The former Open champion teed off with the rain hammering down and would be forced to lay-up after pulling his tee shot into the rough. Needing a birdie to take it to extra holes, he pulled his approach from 113 yards to 43-feet and couldn’t hole the putt.
It was still an excellent week for Lowry, who closed with a bogey-free three-under 67, his third consecutive round of that score, but ultimately it would be one shot too many at nine-under, with Straka becoming the first Austrian to win on the PGA Tour at 10-under.
“It’s hard to take, to be honest. Feel like I’ve got the tournament stolen from me today,” said Lowry through gritted teeth.
“You know, he’s gone three-under the last five on this course. I played the golf perfectly to win the tournament, and that’s this game sometimes and that’s this level. He finished well.
“The last hole was as bad a break as I’ve ever got. You know, especially when you’re standing on the tee and you see him over that left bunker, which I would’ve been able to do if there was no rain, because I need a drive and a four- or five-iron. Probably would’ve given myself a better chance with a four.
“Look, it is what it is. It’s a great week for me. I’m very happy where my game is at. It’s a really nice week to take into The Players now.”
It was impressive enough that Lowry was even in with a shot of winning the tournament as he started the day five shots off Daniel Berger, but the American would collapse in the final round as he signed for a four-over 74 to finish seven-under.
Lowry would lead as early as the sixth hole, with himself, Straka and Berger duelling throughout the middle part of the round before the Austrian pulled ahead with three birdies in his final five holes to set the clubhouse target.
Berger was first to fall when, needing an eagle to be in the play-off, his second shot found the water. Lowry then failed to hole his lengthy birdie putt, handing Straka the victory and extending his wait for a win another week since his triumph at Royal Portrush two-and-a-half years ago.
“It’s hard to win out here. It’s just hard. End of story. There is no point saying any different,” added the 34-year-old, who is set to rise to 35th in the world rankings.
“You go out like I did today, I played the golf to win the tournament but didn’t win. So just 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.”
Despite the disappointment of not lifting the trophy at the end of the week, Lowry was still able to emerge with something of a smile on his face as he came closer to winning the tournament than he would have expected at the start of the day given his deficit to Berger.
“I talk to my coach a lot about this, when we’re in these situations,” he added.
“You know, I was ready for it. I was ready for him to get off to a bad start if that was the case, or if I got off to a good start, there was no way I was changing my game plan.
“I just kept at it, kept at it, and before I knew it I was leading the tournament. It was great fun out there. It’s a great event. I had an absolute blast obviously until the last couple holes. Very disappointing.”
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