Lowry aiming for second major in a row
Shane Lowry can’t help but wonder what might have been in 2020.
This was THE year to enjoy the fruits of his labor.
Lowry, the last man to win a major championship more than 13 months ago, wanted to bask in the glow of his stirring 2019 Open Championship victory at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. The affable Irishman felt like his game was rounding into form this spring before the pandemic took over.
“I feel like I was playing some decent golf going into the lockdown,” said Lowry, who had back-to-back top-30 finishes at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship in February and the Honda Classic in March before the shutdown. "I was so looking forward to going to Augusta in April as the Open Champion. I was looking forward to going to Ireland to play the Irish Open at Mount Juliet, a place that I love, and as the Open Champion and just getting to enjoy and all that. All these tournaments, yes, it's great to be back playing golf, but it would be better if things were just normal and we were playing in front of crowds and you were getting the chance to live life normally. But like I keep saying, it is what it is now and we just have to deal with it.”
Lowry missed three cuts after the restart before finishing in a tie for sixth at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. He shot four rounds in the 60s, something he hadn’t accomplished since the 2019 RBC Canadian Open five weeks before his major coming out party. Maybe it’s a sign leading into the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park. Two in a row has a nice ring to it.
At his Wednesday presser, he said he really liked the course. “I think it's there in front of you,” he said. “It's playing quite difficult. The greens are a lot firmer than they feel like they should be because it's so cold, and it's just going to be a great test of golf.”
During his practice round, he dropped a ball in the rough along the ninth fairway to see how it reacted.
“I said to Bo (Martin, his caddie), "Let's see if a 5-wood can get out of this," and it didn't,” Lowry admitted. “Yeah, look, it's patchy in places. So I was just trying out to see if my 5-wood could -- I could gouge it out of the rough. But I think when you get some bad lies in the rough, you probably have to be fairly disciplined in what you're doing. I feel like there might be a few layups on par-4s.”
Growing up on links golf overseas, Lowry’s game is built to withstand the damp and gloomy conditions everyone expects this week. He’s calculating it’s a half-a-club difference from TPC Southwind to TPC Harding Park. “If I hit my 7 iron 185 (yards) last week, I'm probably hitting it maybe 175, 178 (yards) this week, so something like that,” he said. “When you play golf in this type of wind, as well as this type of cold, there is a lot of feel involved, and the temperature can change throughout the day here. So it's important to be on the ball with that as well.”
Lowry’s currently on a 10-week sojourn across America, chasing tournaments, a long time to be on the road away from his young family.
“Like I said to them, ‘I'm not going off to war. Like I'm going to play golf. It's not the end of the world’,” he said. “It's strange times in our life.”
Balky putting seems to be holding him back. He’ll need a big week to move up from 130th in the FedEx Cup standings to make the playoffs later this month.
“If I can hole a few putts this week, I can probably do something decent anyway. I can probably give myself a chance,” he said.