Wednesday 27 March 2019

Lowry is 'happy as Larry' while Dunne and Harrington struggle

The Offaly star has hit the reset button. Photo: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
The Offaly star has hit the reset button. Photo: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Shane Lowry was "happy as Larry" after opening with a one-under 69 in the US PGA.

The Offaly star has hit the reset button since The Open and with his brother Alan standing in as caddie, he cruised serenely around Bellerive Country Club and responded perfectly to his only moment of crisis to get his Major quest off to a solid start.

As Pádraig Harrington struggled on the greens to card a 71 and Paul Dunne hit just four fairways and bogeyed his last two holes for a three-over 73, Lowry was in cruise control all day.

Playing well within himself, he was neat and tidy for the first five holes before he popped up near the top of the leaderboard, hitting baby fade down the stick to eight feet at the 221-yard sixth.

That four-iron got him up and running and, while he followed a tasty eight-footer for a birdie four at the eighth with a three-putt from nowhere at the ninth, the key to his round wasn't the nine-footer he made for a birdie four at the 17th but the one he made for a bogey three holes earlier.

After a rare hook into the trees forced him to take a penalty drop, he got up and down from just short of the green for his five.

"That was my round there," the Clara man said. "That's the type of stuff that hasn't been going my way the past few months.

"But I knocked that in and birdied 17 and to shoot one-under, I'm happy as Larry here.

"I played nicely and hit some lovely shots coming in, some nice iron shots and nice drives. So I am happy."

While many were surprised that the scoring wasn't lower, Lowry felt the pins were tricky, many of them cut "on a lot of knobs and slopes".

The slopes on the 221-yard sixth weren't an issue as he hit a trademark four iron to eight feet.

"That was the shot of the day by far," he said. "I had 221 and hit a four iron straight down the flag. It was one of those ones - you don't have to talk to it.


"So to hit the shot and then go up and knock it in was nice. I felt good all day."

Asked about the last time he felt as happy, he said: "It's been a while since I've felt this content about it. Normally when I am doing interviews with you lads, I have my bottom lip hanging out."

Lowry hit 11 of 14 fairways and missed just two greens, taking 32 putts. While Harrington also had 32 putts, he missed six inside 10 feet in his 71.

"I struggled a bit with the pace," the Dubliner said after mixing birdies at the second and 11th with bogeys at the sixth, seventh and 12th.

"A few of the longer putts, you've got to hit them hard; and then the shorter ones, I must have missed half a dozen short putts. That's a lot.

"Those greens are lovely for holing putts, the ball sticks to the grass nicely. I just hit a few bad putts and hit a few good ones that didn't go in and you are in a lot of doubt. It is hard to get it in the hole at that stage."

The Dubliner was surprised that the scoring was so moderate and blamed Major-itis.

"Shocked," he said. "The pins are very easy, easy pins all day. I was surprised, really thought they would set it up much tougher.

"I looked up at one stage expecting to see somebody at six or seven (under)... In a regular event it would, that's what's holding people back."

As for Dunne, he made three good pars to save his first five holes, birdied the tough fifth but bogeyed the seventh and hit just four fairways all day.

While he got away with a push into trouble on the ninth, holing a 33-footer for par, he bogeyed the 10th and then found water off the tee on the 17th. The Greystones native hit the rough on the last to finish with back-to-back bogeys for his 73.

Irish Independent

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