Tuesday 21 November 2017

Snowman leaves Lowry out in cold after starting second round with stunning hot streak

Shane Lowry. Photo: INPHO
Shane Lowry. Photo: INPHO

Big numbers at the wrong time continue to haunt Shane Lowry and try his patience.

But the burly Offaly man's incredible birdie-rate means that if he can cut out the mistakes, he still has a chance to turn his season around in the weather-interrupted Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa.

On a day when a swirling wind allowed just three players in the 72-man field to break 70, the world No 89 birdied the first, fifth, seventh and ninth to go out in 32, then made another at the 10th to race into the lead on five-under par.

A bogey at the par-three 11th was no great drama, but after racking up a triple-bogey eight at the par-five 14th and then following a birdie two at the 16th with a closing bogey, Lowry must dismiss any gathering demons if he's to contend for a win that could transform his season.

A one-under 71 was a poor return for some sensational golf but that morale-sapping 'snowman' will bring back memories of other big mistakes this year.

A bogey at the 15th cost him in last week's Turkish Airlines Open, but there was also a brace of expensive late double-bogeys on the final day of the BMW PGA at Wentworth and the triple-bogey six at the 17th that killed his charge in the second round of the US PGA at Quail Hollow and two double-bogeys at Valderrama's 18th.

While Frenchman Victor Dubuisson carded a 70 that gives him a one-shot lead over Darren Fichardt and England's Lee Westwood on six-under par, Lowry will be reminding himself that he has been a birdie machine since September's Portugal Masters.

The 2015 Bridgestone Invitational winner has made 109 birdies in his last 24 rounds - a strike rate of 4.54 per round that not even Jordan Spieth could manage in leading the birdies-per-round charts on the PGA Tour this year.

Pádraig Harrington added a 72 to his opening 74 to share 30th on two-over, eight shots behind Dubuisson. Like Lowry, Paul Dunne also suffered the triple-bogey blues, making a seven at the eighth in a 76 that leaves him 53rd on six-over.

It was also a bad day for Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood, who is 37th, nine shots off the lead.

On the PGA Tour, Graeme McDowell shot a one-under 70 in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba to share 37th place, six shots behind clubhouse leaders Brian Gay and Brandon Harkins on three-under.

West Waterford's Seamus Power, tied 56th after the first round on one-under par, was one of the late starters in Mexico.

Irish Independent

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