Lowry disappointed not to have put his best foot forward this week

Mark McGowan

Shane Lowry playing from a bunker at Augusta National (Photo: David Paul Morris/Masters Media)

Mark McGowan

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Shane Lowry may not have had the week he was hoping for at Augusta National as the Irish quest for a Green Jacket continues with no joy, and he feels that it was his putting – and par putting in particular – that was his undoing.

“Not very good,” was his assessment after closing out on a final-round 74 that sees him provisionally lying tied for 43rd. “It’s over now. I’m a little disappointed obviously.

“Yeah, I played all right golf throughout the week, just made a lot of bogeys, a lot of bogeys. No big mistakes, nothing disastrous, just a lot of bogeys.

“Yeah, I just didn’t really hole my par putts when I needed to. When you do that early on around this course, you get behind the black ball, and it was just tough.”

That was very much the story of the day – particularly in the early stages – as he reeled off four bogeys in a row from the fourth, but rebounded to cover his final 10 holes in two-under to finish on +8. One of those birdies on the second nine came on the 14th, a hole that’s been really good to him this week, following his eagle – the first eagle recorded on the hole in eight years at the Masters – in round three.

“14, I played it four-under this week, and I believe it played quite difficult,” he said. “Imagine if I didn’t play it in four-under. Seemed to have played that hole better than the par-5s.”

Lowry is now a veteran of Augusta National, making his ninth tournament appearance this year and making his fifth consecutive cut, but there are always new things to learn and he saw a different beast present itself this week than in any of his previous eight starts.

“Well, it was the first time I’ve played the Masters in these conditions, I think, since I’ve been playing,” Lowry said. “I think it’s as tough a Masters that I’ve played the weekend on anyway. Yeah, you learn a bit more. Come back next year and see if I can do it again.”

Now 37 and in his 16th year as a professional, Lowry rarely tees it up in tournament play on a course that he’s not familiar with and that’s certainly the case at the 2024 major venues, but he admits that there’s something a little special about Augusta National and Masters week, even if it’s a high-pressure week.

“Obviously you’re at the same course every time, which is great,” he said. “I’m getting to a stage now in my career that I’m going back to major venues that I already know, so I feel like I’m getting old. But that’s nice, going back to Valhalla this year and back to Pinehurst, back to Troon, so that’s nice, and all the golf courses.

“But it doesn’t really — obviously Masters week you put a lot of pressure on yourself, it means a lot. But they all mean a lot, to be honest. Every tournament means a lot out here on tour.

“I think for me this week is probably the most special week of the year. Disappointed not to give it a decent run this year. Yeah, hopefully I have a few more years left of giving it a run out here.

“It’s over now. I’m going to go back to the drawing board and see what I can do next week heading into Hilton Head.”

Having played alongside rookie left-hander Akshay Bhatia in rounds one, two and three, Lowry joined another lefty in round four, but this time it was the three-time Masters champion and six-time major winner, Phil Mickelson and he very much enjoyed the experience of playing alongside the man known as ‘Phil the Thrill’.

“Yeah, Phil is good,” he said. “I love playing golf with Phil. He hit some shots that I’m kind of right there enjoying as a spectator more than anything else. When I saw the draw last night, I was excited to go out and play a Masters Sunday with him.

“He lived up to his name. He hit some unbelievable shots. He hit a shot from over in the trees on the 8th hole I think only he would go for, let alone pull off, but it was good fun.”

There’s no time for rest, however, as the busy schedule continues with the PGA Tour Signature Event, the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head next week, and then a partnership with Rory McIlroy at the paired Zurich Classic of New Orleans the week after – a tournament that he’s still firmly committed to and hopes that the same goes for McIlroy – as the business part of the season continues and big events come thick and fast.

“Yeah, like the PGA is not far away,” he said, “but I’ve obviously got Hilton Head next week and the Zurich Classic a week after, and then I’ll have a week off. I don’t know what I’m doing actually. Maybe a week or two off after that before the PGA. Yeah, they come fast, and the season comes fast.

“Look, the thing I need to take away from this week is I don’t think — yes, I’m eight-over-par for the tournament, but I don’t think I’m playing any bad golf at all. I think I’m thereabouts, I know that. I know that going forward over the summer I’ve played some good golf over the last few months, and I still have some good golf in me.

“Off the tee I’m as good as I’ve ever been. My iron play is very solid. My short game feels good. It’s all about holing a few putts.

“I felt great with the putter today, to be honest. I did an hour yesterday afternoon with my coaches, and I found something a little bit. I burnt the edge a lot early on, which is disappointing, but I hit some lovely putts. It was nice to stand over some 20-footers today and feel like I was actually going to hole them. Hopefully I can take that into next week.”

A disappointing week it may be, but that just goes to show the high standards he sets himself these days. And that eagle on 14 means that he won’t go away empty handed and there’ll be another piece of Augusta crystal to adorn the Lowrys’ mantlepiece.

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