Monday 20 January 2020

Lowry savours 'perfect' hole-in-one as McIlroy regrets being 'too careful'

Shane Lowry hits out of a bunker on the second hole during the final round of the Masters. Photo: AP
Shane Lowry hits out of a bunker on the second hole during the final round of the Masters. Photo: AP

Liam Kelly

Shane Lowry all but danced an Irish jig after his hole-in-one on the infamous par-3 16th.

Shane Lowry all but danced an Irish jig after his hole-in-one on the infamous par-3 16th.

High-fives all round, massive roars from the galleries, and a marvellously exuberant celebration, was just the tonic for the Irishman who struggled to find momentum in his round up to that magic moment.

Lowry began the day at +5 for the tournament and slipped to 12-over-par after 15 holes.

And then, the dark clouds lifted, the doldrums disappeared, all in a couple of heartbeats.

Lowry swung his 8-iron, and made the perfect contact.

Unerringly the ball flew 180 yards on the ideal line to hit the middle of the green. It landed in the perfect spot and then began to roll down the slope, and finally dropped into the cup.

Lowry wears his heart on his sleeve and the Offalyman was bursting with pride and delight as he jumped for joy.

This was only the 16th ace on this potential card-wrecker in Masters history, and the first since Bo Van Pelt in 2012. It was Lowry's second ace as a professional, and his first on American soil.

Lowry will delight in sharing bragging rights with Pádraig Harrington, who became the first Irish golfer to have a hole-in-one on the 16th when he holed out a 6-iron shot in 2004.

Playing only his second Masters, and making the cut for the first time, Lowry joined a host of competitors making big numbers on a course which proved something of a beast in the 80th staging of this great tournament.

Lowry made the turn in 41, 12-over for the tournament.

By the time he stood on that 16th tee he was surely looking forward to getting off the course and leaving the post-Masters assessment for some time in the future.

And then came the ace, for which Lowry receives a large crystal bowl memento.

"I had 180 yards down-wind and it was a perfect 8-iron for me. I'd been hitting good shots most of the day, hitting my targets well. I just hit a perfect shot in right of the flag," he said. "Obviously it needed a bit of luck to go in, but it felt like definitely a bit of luck that I deserved. Just a pity I wasn't doing better."

The photo of that moment will get a place of honour in Lowry's house - and he held on to his Srixon golf ball, despite making a mock gesture of throwing it into the stand. "I'm fairly happy. I'll stick that picture up in my house, I'm sure, and it will be a nice memento to have," he said.


Reflecting on his 75 and +10 total for the week, Lowry commented: "(Saturday) was just a tough day and I let it get away from me.

"Friday didn't go too well obviously, either. I feel like my game wasn't far off. I didn't hole enough putts. I made a few bad decisions. I feel like I could have done a bit better.

"I'm a bit disappointed, going away, with the whole week."

US Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III became the 17th player to ace the 16th when he holed out using a 6-iron shortly after Lowry's group.

South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen later made it 18, with the third hole-in-one of the day on 'Redbud', the first time history three aces were scored on the 16th. Oosthuizen's shot extraordinarily ricocheted off JB Holmes' ball on the green and went into the hole.

Rory McIlroy never got into the conversation. A birdie on the 18th for 71 and one-over for his week left him underwhelmed.

"I was in a great position going into the weekend, a shot back in the final group on Saturday and I just didn't play the golf I needed to when it really mattered," he said.

"That's the thing that I take away not just from this week, but from previous Masters.

"I've been in position before and I haven't got the job done when I needed to and I don't think that's anything to do with my game, I think that's more me mentally and I'm trying to deal with the pressure of it, and the thrill of the achievement if it were to happen. I think that's the thing that's really holding me back."

The four-time Major winner admitted he had never felt comfortable through the tournament.

"Trying not to make mistakes, trying to be too careful, that's the stuff that's holding me back," he said. "It's almost as if I need to go out here and not respect the golf course as much. So, yeah, I just, I was a little too careful out there yesterday."

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