Shane Lowry feels his long game is in great shape but knows it will mean very little unless he can marry it up on the greens which has proved his achilles heel this season.
Lowry made the cut on the number at the PLAYERS Championship and put together impressive weekend rounds of 68 and 70 to crack the top-40 at TPC Sawgrass, but he was slightly disappointed he didn’t move further up the leaderboard.
The Clara native ranked 11th in strokes gained tee to green and 7th in approach, but he was at the other end of the scale on the greens, ranking 71st in putting and losing over four strokes to the field over the course of the week.
“The last three days are as good of golf as I can play, and I need to find something on the greens over the next couple of weeks. I hit the ball great,” explained Lowry who birdied holes 1, 7, 9, 12 and 17 but dropped shots on 3, 8 and 18.
“Obviously Thursday was a bit — I felt good coming into the week, was excited about it, and then Thursday was just kind of a little kick in the backside really. Can never get complacent in this game. I’m not saying I was complacent, but you just need to be on the ball. It is that type of course.
“I felt like then Friday, I played lovely golf. I mean, I shot 2-under, and it’s by far the worst score I could have shot today. That’s disappointing because I felt like I could have shot — the way I played, had a 5 or 6- or 7-under in me today, and that would have moved me nicely up the leaderboard, but I have to look at the positives, as well, and the way I drove the ball and hit the ball over the last three rounds is pretty nice.”
There’s been little wrong with Lowry’s long game in 2023 so far but he knows his putting has held him back from winning, particularly in Abu Dhabi at the DP World Tour season opener. Lowry has been working hard with Irish putting coach Stephen Sweeney – who also counts Collin Morikawa in his stable – and it had paid dividends until this latest barren spell.
“I went back to a shorter putter last week. It didn’t work very well,” explained Lowry who is 146th in strokes gained putting on the PGA Tour and is unsure whether he will persevere with a shorter putter heading to Augusta National.
“But no, I started working, I changed my grip and started working pretty hard with a guy Stephen Sweeney about two years ago, and it’s been working. It’s been going pretty good. But it’s just been a bit of a barren spell the last few weeks. I feel like if I had have holed anything this week, it would have been a decent week. It’s one of those, there’s no drastic changes needed, just a bit of confidence. There’s a lot of it between the ears, as well, and I just need to get that right. Maybe commit to it a little more. I don’t know.”
Looking at the bigger picture, the 2019 Open champion was in a reflective mood and acknowledged that he did very well to get four rounds in having opened his campaign with a dismal five-over 77.
“Yeah, like I’m going to finish 40th, but yeah, look, it is one of those where you shoot the score you do on Thursday, and I’m one, like I never give up, so I’m always going to be out there trying my hardest. I went out there on Friday and it looked at times like I was going to miss the cut, and I managed to finish strong, and thankfully got a bit of help yesterday morning and a couple of lads let us in, and we went to play yesterday.
“To be honest, I played great yesterday I played great today, so probably should have finished better. But yeah, it’s always nice when you have a bad day Thursday to fight back, and I’ve done that a few times in bigger tournaments over the years. So yeah, it just goes to show you have to — look at Tom Hoge. He went out yesterday and he had a flight booked home yesterday afternoon and he went out and now he’s out there with a chance to win the tournament. It’s a game — golf is a game you’re just never out of it.”
Lowry will head to Augusta National on Monday with Seamus Power to tune up for the Masters before playing the WGC MatchPlay in Texas.