A Tiger Woods-inspired Shane Lowry brilliantly took a huge bite out of the alligator-infested course to snatch the early clubhouse lead with a 65 on day one of the RBC Heritage Classic at Hilton Head.
Lowry didn’t drop a shot in a post-Masters confidence boosting effort around the tight tree-lined Harbour Town course in South Carolina.
The effort is the Offaly golfers lowest PGA Tour opening score, in a regular stroke-play event, since a similar 65 on day one at the 2016 Players Championship. While Lowry had also posted a first round 66 in the 2017 RBC Heritage.
Lowry, starting from the 10th, ignited his round with three birdies in his opening six holes with none better than at the par-4 11th where he holed a near 20-footer to go one under for the day.
The World No. 50 moved to five-under with birdies on the two closing par-5s, including landing an 80-foot bunker shot to just three-feet at the par-5 5th.
Lowry then took the lead (at the time) in the $US 6.9m event in landing a 111-yard wedge shot to just six-feet on his last for the sixth birdie of his day.
“I just tried to go out there and not make too many mistakes and when I made a mistake I managed to get up and down,” he said.
“I hit the ball pretty well off the tee, which gave me a lot of chances. And I knew when I saw my tee time it was a decent draw to get out there first thing and it wasn’t very windy.
“When it gets windy around here it can swirl in the trees and get very difficult. It wasn’t too bad this morning. But, yeah, I’m glad because my golf has not been great as of late. It’s a funny game.”
And delighting Lowry was birding the three par-5s.
“The key was the par-5s and it was something I’ve been struggling with, my par-5 scoring hasn’t been very good,” he said.
“I just played them nicely today. Like I said, I think I struggled off the tee quite a bit this year, and I managed to find a new driver that I like. I hit that pretty good. And when you do that on par-5s it always gives yourself a chance.”
The Irishman had driven down from Augusta National on Sunday morning after the bitter disappointment of missing the cut at the Masters.
And it was the listening on the car radio to Woods capture a fifth Masters and a 15th Major that help inspire Lowry who last August lost his PGA Tour card.
“Tiger was my idol growing up and the main reason I got into golf,” said Lowry.
“It’s phenomenal what Tiger did at the weekend – the whole world was probably rooting for him. I certainly was. I was going to stay on until Monday. I’d said if Tiger was winning, I would go up to the clubhouse to try and watch it there.
“But with the storms forecast we drove down from Augusta on Sunday afternoon to Harbour Town and I listened to the back nine in the car. I never thought golf could be so exciting to listen to on the radio, but it was.”
Former Heritage winner, Graeme McDowell began his round with a bogey but then snatched four birdies in a three-under par 68.
GMac saved the best of his four birdies to his penultimate hole thanks to a 30-foot chip-in at the par-4 eighth hole he was playing as his 17th.
“I am very pleased with three-under as this golf course can get you defensive, and especially off the tee,” said McDowell.
“There are not many tee-boxes you walk onto and feel like you can open the shoulders and give it a rip, so I felt a little ‘hold back’ out there while the iron-play was a little off, so there is lot’s of room for improvement.
“Though scoring-wise I felt good on the greens and I kept the ball reasonably under control off the tee and did what you have to do around here, that is to give yourself a few good looks at the greens and make a few putts,” he added.
With many of the field yet to complete their first rounds you can find full scoring HERE – https://www.pgatour.com/competition/2019/rbc-heritage/leaderboard.html