Tuesday 20 March 2018

Lowry stays upbeat as McIlroy sparkles in birdie blitz en route to 66 at Quail Hollow


Rory McIlroy watches his tee shot on the 15th hole during the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship. Photo: Chuck Burton
Rory McIlroy watches his tee shot on the 15th hole during the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship. Photo: Chuck Burton
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

The message from the Shane Lowry camp is "no need for panic" despite his missed cut in the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow.

Lowry's coach, Neil Manchip, who is also the GUI National Coach, reckons his player has every reason to maintain an upbeat attitude.

Manchip was at The Royal Dublin GC yesterday, watching the final round of the Flogas Irish Amateur Open won by Colm Campbell Junior.

The coach will link up again with Lowry for Dubai Duty Free Irish Open week after The Players Championship.

The Wells Fargo event was Lowry's first since the Masters and he missed the cut by two.

"Shane is happy enough with everything. There's so much going on this year, but in general, his form is great. His all-round game is pretty good in all areas. It's up and down a bit here and there, but in general, very good," said Manchip.

Lowry is still on a learning curve as PGA Tour member.

He only made his Masters and his Players Championship debut last year, and still has to make a choice between defending his WGC-Bridgestone title, or opting for the French Open which carries double Ryder Cup points this year.

The tournament dates clash, and the European Tour will not count money or ranking points gained at the Bridgestone towards Ryder Cup selection.

"It's still in the balance. He's just going to wait and see how he goes. I don't think there's many have chosen not to defend a tournament, especially one as big as that. But like you say, the Ryder Cup points are available in France," said Manchip.


Back at Quail Hollow, defending champion Rory McIlroy finally threw off the shackles and launched a serious assault on the course.

He shot 73 on Saturday and started his final round at one-under par for the tournament. A bogey five on the first did not augur well, but McIlroy refused to buckle and shot four birdies on his front nine to turn in 33.

He tacked on four more birdies in his first seven holes of the back nine, and then saved par on the 198-yard par-3 17th with a superb 40-yard pitch to two feet.

At eight-under, McIlroy (above) went for broke and fired at the flag on the 493-yard, par-4 18th.

It was worth the risk, but the ploy backfired when he missed the green left and had to play from a downhill lie on a bank with a tiny creek between him and the putting surface. He took bogey five there and closed on 66 for seven-under par.

Had he birdied rather than bogeyed the last, McIlroy would have found himself in a play off on nine under with James Hahn and Roberto Castro.

Hahn had missed his previous eight cuts but found a par on the first playoff hole to take the tournament.

A rueful McIlroy told Sky Sports: "If you can take away those fives at the start and the end, it was a pretty good scorecard. I played well, I hit a lot of better iron shots, I converted a lot of chances. I did a lot of things right. I was trying to post ten-under par. That was the score in my mind, so I needed to birdie the last couple of holes. It just didn't quite work out for me."

Next up is Sawgrass this week, followed by the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

"It's two big weeks coming up. It's a decent performance here. I'm positive and confident going into the next couple of weeks. Looking forward to next week, with my game running into a little bit of form," he added.

The Trophée Hassan 11 also required a sudden death play-off before South Korea's Jeunghun Wang defeated Nacho Elvira to take the title on the second tie hole.

Wang, 20, shot 70 to tie on 283 (five-under) with Elvira who took 69 for the final round.

Paul Dunne was Ireland's best performer, scoring 74 for three-over-par 291.

Other Irish scores were Peter Lawrie 78 (+7); Gary Hurley 74 (+8); Kevin Phelan 76 (+10).

Clément Sordet of France won the Turkish Airlines Challenge, shooting 69 for a 20-under-par 268, beating compatriot Pavon Matthieu by a shot.

Gavin Moynihan, the only Irish player to make the cut, filed a level-par 72 to finish on one-over 289.

Irish Independent

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