After spending two days trying to locate a missing credit card behind the dash of his Tour courtesy car, Shane Lowry is in the driver’s seat to win himself a spanking new $US 52,000 2018 Ford ‘Expedition’.
Waste Management Phoenix Open organisers are offering the prize of the new Ford for the best aggregate ‘closest to the pin’ score at the infamous ‘Coliseum’ par-3 16th hole over the opening two rounds of the event at TPC Scottsdale.
Lowry is among the first-round leaders landing his 9-iron tee shot just three-feet from the flag and holing the birdie putt.
For two days before the $US6.9m event, Lowry spent a fruitless search for one of his credit cards that he lost.
“I had the car factory staff pulling out everything in the car looking for my missing credit card that I thought fell down between the stereo and the air-conditioning,” he said smiling.
“Then when they pulled most of the stuff out it wasn’t there, so I don’ t know where it is.”
“So, it would be nice to win the new Ford and if I can ace the hole to get it close tomorrow (Friday) you never know.”
However, of more importance for the lone Irishman in the field was finding his way to the practice putting green after posting a one-under par 70 on the opening day at TPC Scottsdale.
Lowry was sharing 46th place in the now 131-player field after a round that included five birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey.
It left the Lowry trailing six shots behind American Bill Haas who, like Lowry, was out in the afternoon half of the draw and snatched an eagle and six birdies to lead by two shots with an eight under par 67.
Lowry commenced his round from the 10th and was two-under with birdies at 10 and 13 but he gave both shots back in doubling the par-4 14th after a wild 317-yard shot that went OB right of the fairway and with no option but to play a second ball off the tee before proceeding to three-putt from just 13-feet.
But he then regrouped to find the back right of the green in two at the par-5 15th and brilliantly chipped to a dozen feet and holed the birdie putt.
Lowry then brought ‘The Coliseum’ crowd to their feet at the famed par-3 16th, with the great majority late in the afternoon already clearly well-fuelled, when he landed his shot to just three-feet.
The Clara golfer headed to his inward half at two-under par but proceeded to bogey the second hole of the course, birdied the third but bogeyed the sixth.
“It could have been so much better had I not hit my tee shot OB on 14 or three-putted 17 and the second hole plus I missed a couple of short ones, as well,” he said.
“But the highlight was easily nearly acing the 16th and, as I’ve said, I now have a great chance of winning the Ford if I can hit it close on day two.”
After missing the cut last week in his first event of the New Year, Lowry is determined to play all four rounds this week in an event he shared sixth place two years ago.
“Last week I just played five holes on day two pretty badly and it cost me, whereas today I drove the ball so well including a 370-yarder off the tee at the ninth,” he said.
“So, I played nicely and the work I’ve done over the weekend and earlier this week has really paid off.”
“I feel like it has been paying off and that I have straightened out my ball flight considerably”.