Sunday 23 September 2018

Lowry digs deep to stay in the hunt after day of carnage

Poulter carded a one-under-par 69 to join American Scott Piercy at the top of the leaderboard at Shinnecock Hills. Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Poulter carded a one-under-par 69 to join American Scott Piercy at the top of the leaderboard at Shinnecock Hills. Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Phil Casey

Shane Lowry dug deep to card a rollercoaster 75 and keep his US Open hopes on life support at a wind-blown Shinnecock Hills.

The Clara man suffered a bizarre series of highs and lows, recovering from a three-putt bogey at his second hole by nailing a monster 75 footer for birdie at the next before four-putting the 13th from six feet for a triple bogey seven.

Out in four-over 39, he sandwiched a tap-in birdie at the fourth between bogeys at the third and fifth before closing with four pars to finish the day just inside the top 60 alongside the likes of Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood on five-over.

He's also just six shots behind world number one Dustin Johnson, Scott Piercy, Russell Henley and Ian Poulter, who defied winds gusting to 25mph to card one-under 69s for a one-stroke lead over former US PGA winner Jason Dufner with the likes of Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson lurking on one-over after grinding out 71s.

"I did not enjoy it at all in 2004 and through most of the US Opens it feels like you are pulling teeth," Poulter said.

"It's supposed to be tough but this week I've changed my mindset. I'm here to enjoy my golf, play freely and just go and play.

"It was brutal out there and I'm glad they have widened the fairways otherwise I don't know what the scores would have been."

Piercy said he was inspired by his Instagram account and some pizza after walking off in frustrating after just four holes of his final practice round.

"I was skanking it and lost like five balls in the first four holes," said Piercy, who was joint runner-up with Lowry and Jim Furyk and Oakmont two years ago. "I'm like 'I'm outta here'."

He added: "I needed some time away so we went back to the house, ordered some pizza and I actually went back on my Instagram, looked at some swings that I posted, positions that I was in, saw some drills I was doing."

Graeme McDowell signed for a nine-over 79 with the lowlight coming at the 252-yard second, his 11th, where his greenside bunker shot hit the pin halfway up and ricocheted back into the same bunker, leading to a double bogey five that sent him to eight-over.

Having started with a three-putt double-bogey at the 10th and followed that with bogeys the 12th, 13th and 14th to turn in 40, it was a tough day for the 2010 champion.

It was also a tough day for three-time winner Tiger Woods, who made a triple bogey seven after overshooting the first and struggled for most of the day on the greens, carding a 78.

The 14-time major winner turned in three-over but then bogeyed the 11th and four-putted the 13th to run up a double-bogey before dropping two more strokes at the 14th after finding deep rough on a day when the world's top 10 shot a combined 52-over.

"I didn't putt well today," Woods said. "I thought I drove it pretty darn good for most of the day. Just never really took advantage of the opportunities. Making a triple and two doubles, not very good."

He still hasn't given up, adding: "Shoot something in the 60s tomorrow, and I'll be just fine. I just think today was the toughest day we'll have all week.

"But then again, I think they're going to let these greens firm out a little bit. They'll start to pick up a little bit of speed, and it will be a good U.S. Open again."

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