Monday 24 October 2016

'Bitterly disappointed' Shane Lowry refuses to blame penalty fiasco for US Open collapse

Phil Casey

Published 20/06/2016 | 07:04

Shane Lowry, of the Republic of Ireland, wipes his face after finishing the final round of the U.S. Open golf championship at Oakmont
Shane Lowry, of the Republic of Ireland, wipes his face after finishing the final round of the U.S. Open golf championship at Oakmont

Shane Lowry admitted he was "bitterly disappointed" to miss out on a first major title after squandering a four-shot lead in the final round of the US Open.

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Lowry became the first player since Payne Stewart in 1998 to fail to turn such an advantage into victory after struggling to a closing 76 on an incident-packed final day at Oakmont.

"It's not easy to get yourself in the position I got myself in today. It was there for the taking and I didn't take it," Lowry said. "I'm bitterly disappointed.

"But you can only learn from your mistakes. I always say it's only a mistake if you don't learn from it. I'm sure I learned a lot from today and I don't know what it is yet, but when I'm in that position again, and I know I will be, I'll handle it probably a little bit better."

Lowry dropped four shots in the first 10 holes to fall two behind Dustin Johnson, but was effectively level when he birdied the 12th as Johnson would eventually be penalised a shot for causing his ball to move when addressing a par putt back on the fifth.

However, the 29-year-old from Offaly then three-putted the 14th, 15th and 16th to end his chances of becoming the first player from the Republic of Ireland to win the US Open.

"I just kept on hitting okay shots," he added. "It wasn't even great shots, it wasn't even bad shots. Kept hitting it to 25, 30, 35 feet. On these greens, it's tricky. Kept leaving myself a lot of work to do.

"It caught up with me on 14 and on 15 and 16 as well. To do that at that time in this tournament.... the more I think about it, the more upset I get."

Lowry refused to blame being told of Johnson's possible penalty for his struggles, adding: "We were told walking on 12. It didn't affect the way I played. If anything, I credit Dustin for playing the way he played on the way in, having that hanging over him, because I probably would have wanted to know straight away if it was me."

Sergio Garcia was effectively one off the lead with five to play, only to match Lowry's bogeys on the 14th, 15th and 16th and finish in a share of fifth place, his 18th top 10 in majors.

"I felt both Scottie (Scott Piercy) and I played extremely well under the conditions," the 36-year-old said. "We've done really well and unfortunately it was one mental error for me on 14, knowing how fast that putt really is.

"I was just coming off a birdie, I was thinking 'let's make another one and keep going' and got too greedy.

"It's been a while since I've been out there in contention for four rounds in a major so it was great. Obviously there's a lot of nerves, but I really enjoyed it.

"I think that I handled it quite well, and unfortunately, came up a little bit short. But I'm still happy with the week."

England's Lee Westwood failed to make a serious push for his first major title, having started the final round in with a shout at five shots off the lead.

Playing alongside Johnson, Westwood played the front nine in eight over par and eventually slumped to a closing 80.

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