When Shane Lowry walked off the 72nd hole at Augusta last year, it was a case of so near and yet so far.
“I don’t know how many chances you’re going to get to win the green jacket,” Lowry said having birdied the last to draw alongside Cam Smith in a tie for third in Georgia.
Lowry would end the week five back of Scottie Scheffler but it was a disastrous triple-bogey ‘6’ on the par-3 fourth that put paid to his chances; Lowry recovering remarkably to post six birdies from the sixth hole on his way to a best ever finish at the tournament.
“The big thing I can take away from the last two days being in contention around here is how comfortable I felt on the golf course,” Lowry reflected.
“I’m proud the way I handled myself, especially when things went against me. I’ve got fight. I’ve got determination, and I’m never going to stop trying. I’m always out there giving it my best.”
This year will be Lowry’s eighth time teeing it up at the Masters. Few courses favour experience quite like Augusta and while its nuances are stealthily hidden, Lowry has seen how the course reveals itself that bit more with each spin up Magnolia Lane.
Such exposure has instilled a deep belief within the Clara star that he could make that famous walk into the Butler Cabin. He managed to defy the odds with a career-defining victory procession at The Open at Royal Portrush.
Why can’t he repeat the trick at the famous Georgia gem?
“I think I have believed that I can do whatever in this game. I just have to allow myself to come to these tournaments and do it,” Lowry said last year.
“Look, this week coming in I was playing such great golf. My form was really good, and I felt very comfortable, so I’m hoping next year when I get back here, I’ll feel the same and give it another go. Who knows what shape my game will be in this time next year.”
It just so happens that Lowry’s long-game has continued to fire on all cylinders in the interim. Victory at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth proved every bit as sweet as he always hoped, and while caddie changes and cold putters have contributed to a mixed bag this term, should the flat-stick co-operate, there’s no reason why Shane Lowry’s love affair with Augusta National won’t yield a first Green Jacket for Ireland.
“I have not done certain things well that I would have liked, but I feel okay,” Lowry said earlier this week.
“Would I say I feel as confident as I did this time last year? Probably not, but do I feel like I can go out and do well this week? Yes, I do.
“Last year, I came off the back of a second place and a top 10 in the Players and I was playing good golf. I was confident. Am I as confident this year? No, but I do feel like my game is in a decent place, and I am just trying to be as patient as I can. Hopefully, it all comes together this week.”
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