Lowry birdies last four to storm into Irish Open weekend

John Craven

Shane Lowry (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

John Craven

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Shane Lowry was all smiles after turning what looked like a hopeless case into an almighty momentum builder after playing his way into a sold-out weekend at the Horizon Irish Open.

When the Clara star found the fairway bunker on the right of 15 at Mount Juliet, the writing looked to be on the wall; Lowry one-over par for the tournament and four shots adrift of the then projected cut-mark.

Possibly freed up by his doomed fate, Lowry struck a stunning approach to 12-feet from the trap and holed the birdie putt before striping a drive down 16 and repeating the trick by sinking another 12-foot putt for birdie.

At his penultimate hole, Lowry took care of the par-5 with a comfortable two-putt birdie and intent on seeing his run through to the finish line, he found the centre cut of the final fairway with a thumping drive before delighting the packed crowds with a smooth 8-iron approach from 184-yards and rolling in what looked to be the all-important fourth birdie from some 18-feet, fist-pumping as his ball disappeared.

As it happened, the cut went to -2 just as Lowry made his stroke.

“I wouldn’t have hit it so hard if I’d known that,” he laughed.

“That’s why we love this tournament, that’s why we love this country, for moments like that,” Lowry gushed post his remarkable two-under 70 that leaves him at three-under for the tournament and inside the top-50.

“Whatever about anything else, when you hole a putt when you need to, that’s the most satisfying thing in golf. That’s what satisfies me most; I stood over a twenty footer needing to make it and I did.

“That’s pretty cool, whether it’s to win a tournament, to make a cut or beat one of your friends, it’s pretty cool when that happens.”

Lowry likened his emotions at the last to his rousing 18th hole finish at Whistling Straits where he earned a precious point alongside Tyrrell Hatton in the four-balls at the Ryder Cup in Wisconsin.

He could’ve been forgiven for accepting his fate four holes out and shifting his focus to his 150th Open preparations but this tournament means far too much to Lowry to go down without a fight and after finding something in his game over that closing stretch, he’s now optimistic about a weekend charge up the leaderboard.

“I was disappointed coming down the last few holes, I just couldn’t get anything going but then I felt on the back nine that I found something in my putting and my game that I would’ve been, not happy, but happier leaving here [should I missed the cut],” Lowry said, explaining that he started to putt with the line of his ball rolling end over end, not lining up the putts, but striking the line to great effect as his confidence resurfaced.

“I’m optimistic for the weekend now. I know I need to go out and shoot two good scores to have a good week but I can do that. Séamus is tied-fourth and he’s only five ahead of me so if I can go out and post a low one in the morning, you never know.”

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