Shane Lowry’s visit to Augusta National ended with more of a whimper than a roar as he missed the cut following two adventurous days on the famous Georgia course, but at least he can take some solace from his back nine performance on day two after fighting his way to a 73 to finish.
Lowry was perplexed after round one where he struggled with all aspects of his game and returned seven bogeys with just the one birdie for consolation in a six-over par effort, commenting; “You come here and shoot 78 in the first round and think what’s the point of being here? I think I put too much pressure on myself to get here and then I put too much pressure on myself when I get here to try and do well.”
He alluded to the mental side of things as the main culprit, adding, “It is all internal in my own head, so I just need to relax and let the golf take care of itself. I’m happy to be here but am I happy to be here now? I am not so sure.”
And while there was a marked improvement in his overall scoring on day two, Lowry still seemed to be harbouring the same thoughts around the unforgiving layout as he bogeyed the 5th and 7th holes on the front nine, taking him to eight-over par for the tournament.
“I was just going out there today to shoot the best score I could and that was a 73,” said Lowry after his round. “Yesterday the damage was done and I was going out there today trying to chase a score and this is the last golf course in the world you want to be doing that at.
“I’m disappointed to miss the cut but it is what it is.”
After another bogey on 10 where he struck a spectator on the left of the fairway with his drive, Lowry hit a solid second which flew straight over the flag, finishing 5 yards over the green where he then failed to get up and down.
He fought back to birdie 13 but that was immediately followed by bogey on 14 after he put his second shot into the water before calming his nerves and stitching his 60-yard 4th shot to four feet and tapping in for bogey.
With missing the cut a certainly and the pressure well and truly off, Lowry seemed to finally relax and posted back-to-back birdies, first on 16 where he stuck his 170-yard tee shot to 10 feet and holed the putt and then at the 17th where his 157-yard approach stopped 7 feet from the cup for a routine three. For Lowry, the finish proved little consolation.
“I was going into the back nine thinking if I could shoot 4 or 5 under, but yeah, I didn’t. I feel like I hit some lovely shots today but this place is tricky. You can’t get away with many silly mistakes here. What does it take to do well around here? It takes every part of your game to be as good as it can be and for me, I need to be fully on to compete around here.
“Every time I hit a decent shot today I felt like I had putt up over a ridge or was just over the back of a green, which is dead. I don’t know what the leaders are but they are definitely 4 or 5 under for the par 5’s and I was one over, and there’s the difference.”
After all the grinding to get there, Lowry’s Masters journey certainly didn’t go to plan but with a busy summer ahead and a win already under his belt in 2019, there’s plenty to still be positive about despite his latest disappointment.
“My last few months haven’t been great in terms of results, one win in eight starts but I need to move on now and look for a bit of form. My schedule until the middle of June doesn’t have me playing much golf which should stand me in good stead at the end of the season, so we’ll see.
“But look, it’s important to remember the good things. I’m in a good place at the moment and there’ll be no panic buttons yet. The scores are not there but I honestly feel like my game is okay at the minute. I don’t feel like I’m searching for anything and maybe I need to look at if I’m trying too hard or if I’m wanting it too much.
“Expectation is a dangerous thing because I played the last few months of last year with not much expectation and then I won in Abu Dhabi and the expectation from myself and others crept up. I don’t think I have it right at the minute and maybe that’s part of the problem.”
It may have been cruel to even enquire and obviously hindsight is a powerful thing but could his preparation have been better if he could do it all over?
“Golf is funny and this place is funny and you’re trying to peak your game for the week and I’ve done everything to try and peak for Majors and I’ve had mixed results. I honestly think I did everything I could to prepare for this week. I just didn’t play well enough yesterday and mentally I wasn’t good enough.
“I need to take a few days and relax and take in what I’ve done this year The funny thing about this game is that before you play really well there’s a little thing that you find, whether it be mentally, physically or in your game which is the trigger and I’ll be searching for that.”
Onwards and upwards Shane!