Wednesday 18 July 2018

Rory McIlroy avoids media after US Open disaster as Shane Lowry digs deep on 'worst greens he has seen in long time'

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy pictured on the ninth green during the first round of the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York. Photo: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Brian Keogh at Shinnecock Hills

Rory McIlroy had to settle for a sympathetic pat on the back from Shane Lowry after he soared to a 10-over-par 80 - his highest score in a Major - in a US Open demolition derby on Long Island.

Like playing partners Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth, who shot rounds of 77 and 78 on a day of attrition, the Holywood star was so bitterly disappointed that he declined to speak to the media afterwards.

Trudging back to the players' lounge to lick his wounds, he stopped to relate his tale of woe to Lowry after Shinnecock Hills took its toll on the best players in the world and he finished the day 11 strokes behind leaders Dustin Johnson, Russell Henley Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy.

His 10-over round matched the eight-over 80s he shot in the second round of The Open at St Andrews in 2010 and, famously, in the final round of the 2011 Masters. But given his pre-tournament confidence, this was arguably more disappointing.

On a day when a westerly wind gusting to 25mph made Shinnecock Hills massively testing, Tiger Woods saw his chances go up in smoke across three disastrous holes which saw him finish on eight over.

Having recovered somewhat from an opening triple bogey, Woods had the chance to get back to three over par when he stood over a birdie putt at the 13th. Four putts later, he was signing for a double bogey and, with two more shots dropped at the next hole, his challenge went with the wind.

Earlier, McIlroy stuck to his game-plan and played conservatively from the tee. But his swing let him down in the stiff crosswind, and after tangling too often with the thick fescue, he couldn't save himself with the putter.

Shane Lowry dug deep to card a rollercoaster 75 and keep his US Open hopes on life support.

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 can't play any better golf than that," said Lowry.

"I put myself in the right position on most holes but I struggled on the greens. I don't know what anyone else thought of them, probably the worst greens I've seen in a long time . . . it is mentally draining," he said.

Former champion Graeme McDowell finished with a nine-over 79.

Irish Independent

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