A frustrated Shane Lowry was hoping the wind blew over the closing stages of the second round to dry out the Copperhead Course heading to the weekend rounds of the Valspar Championship near Tampa in Florida.
Lowry grabbed three birdies in a round of 68 and headed to lunch at five-under-par and just outside the then leading 20 in the $7.8m event.
At close of play on Friday evening, Lowry was sitting in a tie for 25th, trailing nine shots adrift of American Matthew NeSmith who brilliantly equalled Padraig Harrington’s course-record 61 from 2012 to move to 14-under par.
It’s NeSmith by two from Canadian Adam Hadwin with the 2017 Valspar winner adding a 66 to his opening 64 to move to 12-under on the rain-softened course at the Innisbrook Resort.
The American duo of defending champ Sam Burns (67) and Scott Stallings (66) were next best in the clubhouse at 11-under with Justin Thomas, after a pair of 66s, lurking large at 10-under.
Lowry had played superbly on Thursday to be three-under coming up the last, and the third hole of the trio of 16, 17, and 18 that make-up the ‘Snake Pit’, only to three-putt the last for a bogey ‘5’.
No such misfortune on day two with Lowry, who was out from the 10th, snatching the first birdie in holing a four-footer at the par-3 13th and then moving to four-under for the tournament when he managed to get up-and-down from a greenside bunker at the par-5 14th in holing a 12-footer for his ‘4’.
Lowry got through the ‘Snake Pit’ with three pars, including superbly making amends for his end-of-round mishap at 18 in holing a testy six-footer after having been in the left rough with both his drive and also second shot.
He then headed into his inward nine, or the outward half on the scorecard, hitting a booming 323-yard drive down the first, and after being just short of the green in two, Lowry chipped to around three-feet for a birdie ‘4’.
Lowry then produced eight pars for his score of 68 and was assured of weekend work for a third event running on the 2021/22 PGA Tour schedule.
“I am playing well but it’s quite frustrating to be only five-under but then my golf is good with a huge stretch of tournaments coming up, so I do feel comfortable and happy where my game is at,” he said.
“I just feel I should be lower than five-under but then I am trying to look at the bigger picture and look at the tournaments I’m playing going forward, and everyone knows what we have coming up on the schedule.
“The course is just playing a bit soft and I’ve only played here once before (2018) and it’s not the typical Valspar course I have watched on TV. It’s quite tough to short-side yourself whereas in previous years, it’s been very tricky.
“So, hopefully the wind does get up this afternoon and dries out the course, and a bit more wind over the weekend.”
There is no weekend work for Graeme McDowell with his rounds of 73 and 71 handing him a two-over-par tally, five shots shy of the cut-off mark.
- Full scoring HERE