Sport Golf

Saturday 16 December 2017

'I was like Hulk Hogan yesterday and Ben Hogan today' - Shane Lowry on missing cut at Royal Troon

Ireland's Shane Lowry. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Ireland's Shane Lowry. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Treasure this generation of Irish golfers, because despite the disappointment of Shane Lowry and Paul Dunne missing the cut in the Open at Royal Troon, the truth is we've never had it so good.

The little island of Ireland has punched so far above its weight in terms of competing with the best on the world stage in the last nine years that there is a danger the golfing and sporting public have become sated on success.

And with that, comes a demand for more.

Is it fair? Well, let's put it this way: how many Open championships have been won by English golfers recently?

The answer is: none. You have to go back to 1992 when Nick Faldo won the last of his three Claret Jugs for an English victory.

Scotland has had two in 31 years: Sandy Lyle in 1985 and Paul Lawrie in 1999.

No Welshman has won the Claret Jug in 144 previous stagings, and that record is unlikely to be broken this week.

The Irish have claimed the coveted prize four times in nine years - twice by Padraig Harrington (2007 and '08), once by Darren Clarke (2011), and most recently by Rory McIlroy in 2014.

Add in Harrington's 2008 US PGA and Graeme McDowell's fabulous US Open win in 2010 and it's easy to see why expectations of Irish players at Majors have gone through the roof.

The golfers are doing their best to deliver the goods.

Lowry came within touching distance of the US Open at Oakmont last month, and every time McIlroy tees it up in a Major, he is automatically considered one of the favourites.

That's why it hurts these guys when they fall short of the standards they have set for themselves, and is the reason Lowry felt so devastated at his opening 78 on Thursday.

Lowry redeemed himself as much as he could, improving by seven shots for a level-par 71 but it was too little, too late.

"I played great," he said. "I was like Hulk Hogan yesterday and Ben Hogan today.

"I gave it a go. It was tough on the back nine. It was really windy and raining when I had that par putt on 13, and it was just so hard. It was a short par putt. I missed that and I felt I was really behind the black ball.

"16 is one hole you think 'I have a chance' but when we were standing on that tee it was horrendous, like the worst weather you could get.

"I don't feel I have done well, because I played so badly yesterday, but I'm sure a lot of other guys on our side of the draw feel very hard done by.

"It's got to be a big split in the draw. The leaderboard never even moved in the afternoon."

McDowell played in the morning and was certain that at +4 for the championship after scoring 71, that he was gone.

The atrocious weather later in the day moved the dial, so G-Mac survived.

"It was sustained rain there for a couple hours. It was difficult enough. But after the start, I was obviously disappointed with the way I finished because I putted a little bit better today, and then missed a couple coming in," he said.

Clarke is adamant that Ryder Cup captaincy remain his priority, but he showed his competitive streak when almost holing his approach shot to the 18th for eagle.

He had to settle for a birdie, but 72 for 143 got him inside the cut at one-over par for the championship.

"My priorities are Ryder Cup. It's not my own golf," he said. "This is the biggest and best tournament in the world, and I'm proud and privileged to be part of the field and play in it.

"I love links golf. As much as I'm not practising as much as I'd like to or playing as much as I'd like to, when I get back on the links again, I can manage my way around the golf course because I've grown up doing it, and I've been doing it a long time."

Harrington reckoned that 72 was the best he could have scored given the daunting weather conditions. It will be difficult to catch Mickelson from his level par 142 total.

"If I was first out, you might get beautiful weather, and shoot 64, or 63, and then they could get this (bad) weather. But it's hard to see me catching up from here," he said.

Irish Independent

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