Monday 20 August 2018

'I'm not enjoying my golf' - Shane Lowry fears for Ryder Cup dream after Major slump

Shane Lowry hits a shot from the third tee on his way to missing the cut at the US PGA championship. Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Shane Lowry hits a shot from the third tee on his way to missing the cut at the US PGA championship. Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Henrik Stenson hits a shot on the 17th hole during the second round of the US PGA at Baltusrol. Photo: AP Photo/Mike Groll
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Jimmy Walker won't go away, you know.

In fact, once he put the kids to bed last night, the US PGA Championship co-leader chilled out and prepared for round three after rounds of 65, 66 kept the pressure on the chasing pack.

Walker's nine-under par put him at the head of the leaderboard, shortly to be followed by the day's sensation, Robert Streb of the USA.

Streb, 29, had missed the cut in the three previous Majors of the season, but slammed in a 63 to join Walker as the 36-hole pacesetters.

"I'm pretty whooped and I'm going to go home and play with the kids and get them to bed. I'm pretty sure I'm going to fall right asleep and be just fine," said cool customer Walker.

Not so cool was Rory McIlroy, whose bogey six on the 18th for 69 sensationally dumped him out of the championship.

The two-time former PGA winner gave himself a mountain to climb after his opening 74, and hard as he tried, he could not find the kind of inspiration which drove Streb to his super 63.

"If you gave anyone else in the field my tee shots this week, they'd be up near the top of the leaderboard," admitted a rueful McIlroy.

Defending champion Jason Day and Argentina's Emiliano Grillo were two off the pace on -7.

At the end of a hectic day's action Padraig Harrington was the last Irishman standing.

The former PGA champion booked his place in the final two rounds with a level-par 70 for one-over par 141.

"As you often get in a Major, the golf course was there for the taking but because it's a Major, you tend to play it tentatively. I played lovely golf yesterday, I played very tentatively today, but thankfully I putted very nicely," said Harrington.

His goal now is to push on as much as possible to gain FedEx Cup points, world ranking points, and go into the Olympics on the back of good form.

"I go out with the same intensity every day, regardless, so the next 36 holes, there's lots to play for," he said.

Shane Lowry's final Major of the 2016 season ended in frustration and disappointment - and now he fears his Ryder Cup dreams will not come true.

Lowry shot 73, three-over par, for a +5 total, three too many to make the cut.

In the immediate aftermath of his round, the proud Offaly man who desperately wants to sample the Ryder Cup stage at Hazeltine in two months' time, could find no consolation.

If he had a love affair with golf, it feels like he has received a 'Dear John' letter from the game.

"I'm certainly not loving it either, but it just feels like I'm getting nothing out of my golf at the minute," he said. "I shot two over yesterday and yeah, I was happy with my birdie at the last, I was okay, happy enough with my score, finishing two over, but I felt like I got nothing out of it.

"I said to my dad, driving back in the van, I feel like I'm driving well, feel like my iron play is good, feel like my short game is good enough, and I feel good on the greens and I'm five over par.

"There's not much more I can say. I'm not particularly enjoying my golf at the minute, maybe that's part of it but I just can't put my finger on it."

Missed cuts at the Scottish Open, the Open at Troon, and now the US PGA are bearing down on Lowry.


Lowry had added The Travelers Championship next week to his schedule but will consider his options over the weekend.

"I probably needed a good week this week to get on the Ryder Cup team and I'm not playing that now, so what's the point in playing next week? That's the way I'm feeling," he said.

Lowry's last big performance was in the first 54 holes in the weather-interrupted US Open at Oakmont.

He led by four shots going into the final round, and while he did not buckle, enough shots slipped away from him to open the way for Dustin Johnson to forge through to take the title, leaving the Irishman in joint second place.

Golf is funny that way. Had Lowry been four shots behind after three rounds, and come through to tie for second, he could have left Oakmont feeling really good about himself.

As it is, fortunes in this game can change in a week, and after a few days to reflect, Lowry can re-set his targets for the rest of the season.

Darren Clarke also missed the cut. A 71 and +5 was not enough to survive.

Graeme McDowell's challenge petered out with a 75 for nine-over par. He came to Baltusrol on the back of a missed cut in the RBC Canadian Open last week, preceded by a tied-63rd place in the Open championship, and never got the lift he had hoped for over the last two days.

The morning groups were delayed for over 40 minutes following overnight rain which flooded parts of the course, leaving wet conditions out there for the early part of the day.

Later, the sun and the 80 degree temperatures combined to offer the golfers every chance of good scores.

Jordan Spieth suggested on Thursday that he felt better about his game, and improved by three shots on his opening round to card a 67 for three-under par 137.

Spieth and Rules official Brad Gregory took some time to sort out his options on the seventh hole, his 16th, where the Texan hit his ball onto a path where some potholes had filled with water from the heavy rain.

All the technicalities were mulled over before a point of relief was agreed, and he struck an iron shot off the path, over the crowd and trees to land in rough near the seventh green.

From there, Spieth took bogey five, his only blemish on a back nine featuring eight pars.

"It was really weird. It was as complicated as I've ever really had it. Took about as much time as I've ever taken on a free drop," he said.

"It was resolved. I hit a pretty good shot, really wish I could have made par there."

Meanwhile, England's Andrew 'Beef' Johnston is staying around for the weekend while many with illustrious reputations had to pack their bags.

Following his eighth place at Royal Troon, the rotund fun-loving Londoner continued his fairy-tale with a 69 that put him in the hunt on one-under.

Once again, the galleries cheered his every step, with howls of "Beeeeeef" on each hole.

"It's so nice to hear," Johnston said. "And the variation of people shouting it, from little kids up to grown men and women.

"It's just great, man, and it's about to get better. It's going to get very noisy here on the weekend."

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