It may be 33 months since Shane Lowry’s last Tour win but his world class form continued at Augusta National last week with a career-best T-3rd at the Masters spelled another week in contention for the Clara man.
Lowry has become a man for the big occasion and now holds top-5 finishes in all four majors including winning the 2019 Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
The Offaly man’s wins suggest he loves the big stage picking up a WGC Bridgestone Invitational win in 2015 a win in Abu Dhabi in 2019 and of course that famous day in Baltray in 2009.
Despite this, Lowry only has five wins to his name as he enters the prime years of his golfing career and it is about time he started to lift more silverware.
The 2022 Masters was a what might have been week for the 35-year-old. He drove the ball better than Scottie Scheffler, putted better than Scheffler but unfortunately it was his iron play that let him down. Having been ranked top-5 in strokes gained approach over the last three months he was next to last at the Masters. What a sport.
A win is surely around the corner for Lowry however, its only five weeks since a bizarre intervention from mother nature prevented him from winning the Honda Classic and last week he did remarkably well to recover from a gut-wrenching triple-bogey six on the par-3 4th to post a three-under 69.
Lowry heads to the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town where he will be joined by compatriot Graeme McDowell who failed to qualify for the Masters.
Lowry is in a featured group alongside Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth for the first two rounds at Hilton Head where the wind promises to blow as usual.
The Irishman now has four straight top-13 finishes and has a promising record in the first event post Masters with two top-10s including holding the 36-hole lead in 2019. Now playing arguably the best golf of his career in terms of consistency over the last 12 months this seems like a suitable hunting ground for him to strike gold.
If this is a horses for courses event then perhaps Graeme McDowell can come good on his claims that he is indeed turning a corner. The 2013 champion overcame Webb Simpson in a playoff to win his first PGA Tour title that wasn’t a major championship.
Now ranked a staggering 404th in the world G Mac has often spoken about there being a limit to the number of golf courses he can be competitive on. Well, this is most certainly one of them with the average driving distance of the last ten winners being 273 yards.
Driver is somewhat of an unnecessary asset this week and big hitters like Rory McIlroy (no top-40 in two visits) and Dustin Johnson (no top-10s in six starts) have all struggled with the restrictions off the tee.
Remarkably the Portrush native doesn’t have the best record since winning here in 2013, missing three cuts including his last two, and not posting a top-10 in his last eight visits.
McDowell has missed five of eight cuts this season yet there have been signs of life in the old dog. An unfortunate injury at the Corales Puntacana ruined his weekend when he was well placed after 36 holes but he showed his mettle three weeks previously with a T-13th place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational where a shanked bunker shot on the par-5 16th cost him a place at the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews.
Always one of the more enjoyable stops on the PGA Tour that comes at the end of a spell of tough golf courses in Florida and Augusta National and is well placed on the schedule to attract a sprinkling of star quality after the first major of the year.