Sport Golf

Saturday 17 February 2018

Lowry vows to be patient after record Players start

Shane Lowry plays his second shot to the fourth green during the first round of The Players Championship. Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Shane Lowry plays his second shot to the fourth green during the first round of The Players Championship. Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

William S Callahan

A new day, a new challenge for record-breaker Shane Lowry who blistered the back nine of the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in impeccable style yesterday.

Lowry's 29, featuring five birdies, an eagle, and three pars made him the first competitor to break 30 for the back nine in the 42-year history of The Players Championship.

The stunning performance zoomed Lowry from level-par at the turn - one birdie, one bogey - to a finishing 65, seven-under par, placing him just two shots behind the early clubhouse leader Jason Day who equalled the course record with a 63. The Irishman was joined on 65 by Cameron Tringale, Justin Rose, Bill Haas and Brendan Steele.

But Lowry knows he has it all to do again if he is to build on the foundations of his great start to the 'fifth Major'.


The field is formidable - 29 of the top 30 in the world, including the top three, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, and Rory McIlroy and of the 144 players in the field, 102 of them are PGA Tour winners, with a total of 439 wins between them.

Lowry, the WGC-Bridgestone champion of 2015, is one of the Tour winners in that list, and he cites patience as the key to making this week one to remember for the right reasons.

Speaking after his round, Lowry said: "Around this golf course, you just need to be patient. Obviously there's a lot of guys going low today. The greens are quite receptive but I can imagine they're going to firm up.

"I'm not off till late tomorrow afternoon, so between now and tomorrow afternoon, I imagine they're going to be a lot firmer.

"It's just important to stay patient, try and pick your birdies off when you can, and if you get in trouble, try and make pars. That's the main thing for this golf course. Patience is massive."

Last year Lowry made his debut at Sawgrass and missed the cut. This time he changed gear at just the right time at the halfway stage in his round and put himself in the spotlight as a contender for the title currently held by Rickie Fowler.

A back nine run of birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie on his first four holes of the inward stretch reflected Lowry's prowess with the putter, which he acknowledged was helped by a putting tip from fellow Irishman Graeme McDowell when they played nine holes in practice on Wednesday. Ironically, the putter was redundant for his eagle three on the par-five 11th, measuring 558 yards, as he chipped in from 25 feet. He got back on the birdie trail on the par-four 12th, and par-three 13th, then took par on the next two holes. Lowry's round got even better with a birdie, par, birdie finale.

The four on the long 16th showed his Irish links experience. Lowry used his putter from 25 feet off the green to leave his ball stone dead for birdie four.

He hit a sand-wedge 124 yards pin high to the feared island green at the 17th, and settled for a par three.

"It was quite intimidating. It was nice to get the ball on dry land today, and hopefully I can do it for three more days as well," said Lowry.

On 18, he hit driver, sand-wedge to 13 feet and drilled his ball into the cup.

"It was nice to hole the putt. I hit it a little too hard. It was going a few feet past if it had missed," he said.

The evening starters had to battle much more difficult conditions with Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy all carding level par 72s. One of the few bright spots on McIlroy's card was a birdie on the famous par-3 17th hole.

Fowler double-bogeyed the last to sit alongside them while Masters champion Danny Willett scored 70.

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Irish Independent

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