Open Champion, Shane Lowry received a rousing return to the ‘Bear Trap’ on day one of the Honda Classic at PGA National.
Lowry’s first event in the States this year, as the 148th Open Champion, was a mix of three great birdies in his opening four holes that helped propel him to just one shot off the lead before letting slip the initiative in dropping three shots in three holes from the 11th and then managing a fourth birdie at 15 on route to a one-under par 69.
It left the Clara golfer in T11 place on the leaderboard, trailing three shots adrift of leading duo, American Harris England and England’s Tom Lewis, who is competing on a sponsor’s invitation.
“It was nice out there though when the wind is up, this golf course can be tough,” said Lowry, competing in the event for a third time in his career.
“Thankfully, it warmed-up this afternoon so it wasn’t too bad out there. I felt I played good but just let it slip in the middle of my round which was really annoying as you need to make the most of every situation you have.”
Lowry was sharing second place at three-under par walking-up to the 11th tee and after laying-up with his drive, his second shot failed to clear the water guarding the green before finding the putting surface with his fourth and two-putting from 15-feet in taking a ‘6’.
He admitted to a ‘loss in concentration’ in three-putting the 13th hole for a bogey before brilliantly bringing the par-3 15th hole, and the opening hole at the famed ‘Bear Trap’ to its knees in draining a 15-footer.
“It was great around those holes that make-up the Bear Trap and I had forgotten just how much noise the crowd do make around that part of the golf course when they get a few ‘lite’ beers into themselves,” said Lowry smiling.
“No, they were great in congratulating me in winning The Open and also Gary (Woodland) who was in our group having won the US Open last year, and there was Louis (Oosthuizen) who is an Open winner, so they were great.
“I always feel I play my best when I am in one of the better groups in a tournament. Put me out with the top guys and that is when I feel I am at my best.
“My round, other than what happened on 11 and 13, I felt I played really good, so I am looking forward to the next few days as I feel I am playing really good,” said Lowry.
“The weather looks like it is still going be cold and windy, and some people might say that suits me, so we will see.”
Lowry was asked what he though was the biggest challenge for him on day one of the $7m event.
“It was just tough to get the ball pin high,” he said.
“It’s cold out there but then the wind is kind of flicking a bit and if you get the direction wrong you are going to pay for it.
“The thing is also there is water on maybe 12 to 15 holes out there, so it’s just a tough golf course and it is playing a little easier this year though I would hate to see it if the rough was up.
“We all know that it is always a low score that wins this tournament, so let’s see what the next three days bring.”