Shane Lowry bemoaned a poor day with the wedges as a double-bogey at the par-five 15th ruined an excellent comeback in his opening round of The Masters, leaving him to settle for a one-over 73 at Augusta National.
The Offaly man had been birdie-free and two-over thru 12 holes of his first round but sparked a superb fightback with a chip-in eagle at the par-five 13th and then backed it up with a birdie at the next hole, the par-four 14th, to get into red figures.
But a mis-hit wedge with his third shot into the 15th spun back into the water, leading to a seven, and three pars to finish saw Lowry back in the clubhouse with a 73 that has him five shots back of early leader Cameron Smith.
Looking at the stats, it wasn’t hard to see where the problems lay as the former Open champion hit 12 of 14 fairways at Augusta but only hit eight greens in regulation, with Lowry very aware of what he needed to go and work on on the range.
“I’m a bit disappointed, especially given the way I drove the ball today. That was not a great score. Missed the fairway on the first but apart from that I don’t think I missed a fairway and I was a long way down there.
Put myself in a position to have a good score and my approach play was pretty awful,” he sighed.
“I missed four greens with wedges, one with an 8-iron, one with a 7-iron. I was in position A1 on every hole apart from the first and I shot one-over, which is disappointing. I finished out well, I putted alright. My approach play, which has been my strength over the last two years, has let me down today.
“It is what it is, I shot one-over. I got myself back into the round lovely around Amen Corner and then threw it away on 15. I’m a bit disappointed but I’ll pick myself up. Hit a few wedges and figure out what I’m doing, get at it tomorrow.
“It’s only one day. I know it’s the first round of The Masters, so it’s not the ideal time for it to happen. Cam’s having a good round but scoring’s not overly ridiculous. It’s quite tough and it’s going to be very tough tomorrow, so one-over isn’t the worst score.”
That’s not to say his round was atrocious, far from it. Lowry did plenty well, including almost recording a second hole-in-one at Augusta when his tee-shot at the 240-yard par-three fourth landed in the hole and then bounced back out.
“I’ve never seen that before, it pitched in the hole and didn’t make one mark,” he grimaced.
“It was a good shot, unlucky to make par. It literally slam dunked in the hole and normally the hole is destroyed after that, but it didn’t leave one mark. It must have been in, hit the metal and bounced back out.”
Lowry would drop his first shot of the day when he bogeyed the par-four third after one of those wayward wedges missed the green short right, and he would fail to make up-and-down, and then his near ace only resulted in a par when the ball rebounded to the fringe of the green.
Two up-and-downs rescued pars on the fifth and seventh after two more disappointing approach shots, but birdies were hard to come by and he would instead drop another shot at the par-four 10th when he couldn’t recover from short of the green after another poor wedge shot.
But after playing the first two holes of Amen Corner in par – including a 70-foot two-putt for par at the 11th – Lowry would navigate the slope on the 13th green to chip in for eagle to get back to level-par, and he would back it up with his only birdie of the day at the 14th with a nice 11-foot putt – ironically on the only hole besides the first he did not hit the fairway!
Unfortunately, that good work was all undone with one bad shot on the 15th as he found the drink, and three pars to finish had him in the clubhouse with a 73 that, in the ever-increasing wind, was not the worst score.
“I don’t know if you realise how hard it is out there. Going down 15 one-under after making the eagle on 13 and the birdie on 14, you’re past all the hard stuff. 16, 17, 18 weren’t playing that hard today,” he pointed out.
“15 was just a disaster. It was the wrong club for a start, and then just a bad shot. It was Bo’s fault and my fault!”
And with that, it’s back to the range to work on those wedge shots. That’s the way he gets himself up towards the top of that leaderboard on Friday.
“You know me lads, I just want it so bad,” he signed off.