It’s a Sunday afternoon at Augusta, four days before the opening round of the 86th Masters, and two television crews, and a horde of journalists and photographers have gathered on the bank at the bottom of the range. Two hours have passed since Tiger Woods announced on Twitter that he was “heading to Augusta today to continue my preparation” and for two hours we’ve been waiting to capture the moment.
r ‘Tiger watch’ as we say in the trade.
It’s almost 3.0pm when his bagman, Joe LaCava, rocks up to the caddie shack and a moment later when the grey Mercedes with tinted glass pulls into the car park outside. Shane Lowry steps from the car and salutes the gallery with a mischievous smile: “Are ye here for me lads?”
Eight days later, on a Monday afternoon at Hilton Head in South Carolina, he is sitting in a room of the Marriott hotel with a coffee after his best ever finish at the Masters. A copy of The New York Times with a brilliant photo of Scottie Scheffler and his wife, Meredith, has been placed beside him on a table.
But he’s showing no inclination to pick it up.
Meredith Scheffler, and the way she might look at you
Over the next several hours, Scheffler, 25, rebuffed every challenge with the same aplomb to claim his first Major title, running away with the 2022 Masters to win by three strokes … Rory McIlroy, who trailed Scheffler by 10 strokes heading into the final round, finished second after a 64. Smith and Shane Lowry tied for third, five strokes off the lead.
The New York Times,
Paul Kimmage: (With a copy of The New York Times) Let’s start with this.
Shane Lowry: What? You want me to read it?
PK: Start with the photo: ‘Find somebody who looks at you like Meredith.’
SL: (smiles) Yeah.
PK: Have you read this?
PK: Have you read anything?
SL: A bit online. It was more Twitter than anything else. I saw something where Dermot Gilleece said ‘We should expect this of Shane.’ I expect it of myself somewhat, but it’s the biggest tournament in the world.
PK: Sounds like he’s paying you a compliment.
SL: Yeah, that’s what he says: ‘He’s an Open champion. We should expect this standard of an Open champion.’
PK: I don’t get a sense that’s much of a consolation.
SL: Not at all, I mean, I lost by five and he four-putted the last, so I technically lost by seven, so it’s not as though I lost by a shot. It’s not devastating.
PK: But you’re disappointed?
SL: Yeah, it’s all I’ve thought about since Christmas. I built my schedule around the Masters. It was my goal for the first third of the season — to contend on Sunday at Augusta. I did everything to try and do as best I could there, and I did do well. I showed up. I played some great golf. I was a few shots from being really in the mix yesterday afternoon and for me that’s very satisfying, but to see Scottie Scheffler there on the front page of the paper is … I just wish it was me.
PK: Here’s a quote from Scheffler after the round: “I cried like a baby this morning. I was so stressed out I didn’t know what to do. I was sitting there telling Meredith, ‘I don’t think I’m ready for this. I’m not ready. I don’t feel like I am ready for this kind of stuff’, and I just felt overwhelmed.”
SL: I know how he feels.
PK: That was the question.
SL: Yeah, that was me on Sunday morning at Portrush, and that’s why I thought he’d get it harder than he did yesterday. I said to Bo [his caddie, Brian Martin] on Saturday evening: ‘He will not sleep well tonight.’
PK: But to break down like that on Sunday morning?
SL: That’s what it means to win the Masters. He can go back to Augusta now for the rest of his life. That’s the thing that gets me … the green jacket … the champions’ dinner … you see lads going back there when they’re 80!
PK: Yeah, that’s definitely the appeal.
SL: I was talking about it to Bo walking up 18 yesterday. I wouldn’t swap what I have for a Masters; what happened to me in Portrush was one of the most amazing things ever, but I want a green jacket as well. (laughs)
PK: Okay, talk to me about the week. You say it was all you had been thinking about since Christmas. On what was your optimism based? You had played Augusta six times and missed three cuts before last week.
SL: Yeah, I don’t have a great record around there. My best score is 68, and my best finish was 21st, so I don’t know if I thought I could win but I knew I could perform well, because I was playing well.
PK: Your father said on Monday he had never seen you as relaxed.
SL: Yeah, I’ve been playing well. Everything felt good.
PK: Apart from losing the money to Pádraig on Monday.
SL: (laughs) I told the lads [Harrington, McIlroy and Seamus Power] that every time I lose money in practice rounds I play well. So I’ll happily give a hundred dollars every Monday or Tuesday if I can play well at the end of the week.
PK: How did that fourball come about?
SL: I organised it. I sent Seamus a text to see if he wanted to play, and spoke to Rory and Paddy. It was nice.
PK: Four Olympians.
SL: (laughs) Yeah, I never thought of that.
PK: What about Seamus? Everyone thinks of him as the rookie coming through.
SL: Yeah, and he’s older than me! I said it to him a few weeks ago: “It pisses me off that everyone thinks you’re a young lad.”
PK: Okay, go to Thursday and the first round. You know you’re playing well but you don’t start well.
SL: That’s the Masters. I always get quite edgy that morning; that first hole plays so hard and it takes me a couple of holes to settle down. Neil [his coach, Neil Manchip] said to me after the round, ‘You’re not the only one’. And he’s right. I was two-over after ten, then I eagled 13, birdied 14 and spun it [off the green] into the water on 15 [double bogey]. So one-over feels like a really bad score when you get off the course, but then you look at the leaderboard and it’s not that bad. I started telling myself, ‘Five or six-under could win this tournament,’ because the forecast wasn’t great, so I still feel I’m in it. So you forget all about it and all eyes are on next day.
PK: So Friday?
SL: Well, your first goal is to make the cut; I’m not sure about other people but that’s how I think. So I started (long pause) … it’s mental that I can’t remember.
PK: You bogey the first.
SL: Yeah, missed a short putt.
PK: Then you birdie two and seven.
SL: Yeah, then I chip-in on 10 and birdie 13 to get to two-under. That’s when I feel I’m right bang in the middle of it, so that second day obviously went very well.
PK: Then on Saturday?
SL: Got off to a great start — two-under through six and five-under for the tournament, so I’m cruising. Then I hammer a drive down the ninth and miss the green with a lob wedge. Bogey. That was annoying. I felt silly because I just got a bit greedy with the second shot and I should have been cleverer than that, but that’s Augusta. You’re playing in a 20-mile-an-hour wind in the cold; it’s firm and fast and you’re trying to be perfect with every shot because you’re playing on a knife edge, because you can be so close to disaster or something very good. And then …
PK: You make par on 10, 11 and 12.
SL: Yeah, I par the hard holes and then I f**k up on 13 … (Long pause)
PK: Go on.
SL: I knew you were going to ask me about this because everyone was f***ing talking about it.
PK: I didn’t say anything!
SL: (laughs) I’m not stupid.
Meet the Fockers
Shane Lowry cut a frustrated figure as three bogeys in his last 10 holes left him seven shots behind leader Scottie Scheffler on two-under heading into the final round of the Masters … While he still has a chance of becoming Ireland’s first Masters champion, the 2019 Open winner was never the same after he got upset with his caddie on the 13th.
Sunday Independent, April 10
SL: Yeah, I had words with Bo on 13; I had a good go at him.
PK: Go on.
SL: Basically, I’ve missed my drive a little bit but I’m in the fairway. I’ve 220 yards to the front [of the green] but it’s silly to go for it, so I’m going to lay up to a good number and try and get it down to a lob wedge.
PK: I was watching from the gallery. You said something to him after the second shot?
SL: Yeah, it went nowhere. I knew, ‘that’s after leaving a disaster here.’
PK: So what’s the mistake? The club?
SL: Yeah, an eight iron. I was trying to hit it 150 but I didn’t do the numbers right and it was playing 180 (with the wind), so I was 30 yards out on the lay-up and now have 110 yards, instead of 80, to the flag. Look, it’s not that hard a shot but there’s a new front-right pin there and I had to be ultra-conservative, then I stupidly went and three-putted as well.
PK: It’s after you hit the third shot when you have a go at him.
SL: I said something like, “I’m 30 yards out,” or something, with a few expletives thrown in.
PK: I have it here.
SL: I don’t want to listen to that.
PK: I’ve written it down.
SL: (laughs) F**k off will ye!
PK: You said: “Ahh, left myself no shot. What a fucking shit lay-up that was. Well done. Well done Bo. Only 30 yards out. Well done.” Here’s my question: How was it his fault?
SL: Because I hit a wrong club for my second shot.
PK: But you hit the shot.
SL: Look, I know, but I’m trying to win the Masters and I need someone to guide me — that’s what caddies are for. I’m not saying he was completely at fault — it was some of my fault as well — and yes, I had a good go at him, but people don’t understand how hard it is. We’re out there playing one of the trickiest courses in the world and every shot means so much to me, and I f**k up and I let it out, that’s what I do. And am I going to change for anyone? No.
PK: ‘I’ f**k up and ‘I’ let it out. Okay, so we’ve established who f**ked up here. The strategy was to lay-up with an eight iron; you agreed with the strategy, and you agreed with the club. How was it his fault?
SL: I didn’t say it was fully his fault.
PK: (laughs) Here’s my point: the caddie gives advice; the player can accept or reject the advice but has to take responsibility.
SL: I fully trust Bo with every club. If I think it’s a six [iron] and he thinks it’s a seven, I’ll hit seven, but there’s also not many times when we’re not thinking the same. Listen, it’s hard to explain to people who don’t play golf for a living, especially in very high-pressure situations.
PK: Maybe they’ve been looking at Tiger Woods for 25 years. I’ve never seen him bollocking his caddie.
SL: But Tiger Woods is Tiger Woods.
PK: Or Pádraig.
SL: But that’s Pádraig, a different person. I’m me! I genuinely think my fiery side is one of the reasons I’m so good.
PK: Sure, but you shouldn’t treat a caddie like that. It’s hurtful.
SL: I know, and I apologised to him after the round. We talked about it.
PK: Why do you ‘have’ to do it?
SL: I don’t do it all the time, it’s just … I’m letting it out. It’s a vent. It’s not ‘I hate you Bo, you’re getting sacked when we finish’, it’s about me. I’ll give you a good example: Bo [and his wife, Orla] were having another baby and I had a good friend, Darren Reynolds, caddying for me and I didn’t perform for two months.
PK: When are we talking about?
SL: When we started playing again after Covid [June 14, 2020].
PK: Yeah, I was going to ask about that run: missed cut, missed cut, tied 60th, tied 39th, missed cut.
SL: I didn’t feel I could be myself with Darren. It was all too nice. I’m a competitor, and I’m out there trying to do my best and people think … I keep saying ‘people think’ but what do I care what people think.
PK: We all care.
SL: I suppose, it’s just I have this [persona] as this happy, easy-going …
PK: The jolly bearded giant.
SL: Yeah. (laughs) Wendy [his wife] always says to me when we’re having an argument, ‘Everyone thinks you’re a f****n’ nice fellah!’ But I’m a competitor, that’s what I am, and I think the reason people are talking is because they weren’t expecting it from me.
PK: Didn’t you tell me once that you don’t like confrontation?
SL: I don’t.
PK: So when Wendy’s having a go at you?
SL: (laughs) I leave the room.
SL: I feel like I have to explain myself here but I don’t think there was much to it. It’s the biggest golf tournament in the world on one of the toughest days you’ll ever play, and I have a bit of a meltdown. Who cares?
PK: You don’t have to explain it but people are interested. I’m interested. What if you were a dog? What breed would you be?
SL: (laughs) I don’t know dogs that well.
PK: We’ll keep it simple: Rottweiler, Labrador or Poodle?
SL: I think I’d be a Labrador. Labradors look after their owners, don’t they? They’re friendly looking but mean if they need to be.
PK: I ask because you had barely stepped off the 18th green on Saturday when Neil had his arm around you.
SL: Well, he always meets me at the top of the hill but he was probably a bit closer on Saturday. He knew how hard I would take it; I guess he just wanted to be there for me.
PK: But he wasn’t just walking beside you, it was almost a cuddle?
PK: You need that?
PK: He knows you need that?
SL: He knows me.
PK: What did you do on Saturday night?
SL: I had a bit of a vent to Wendy, Alan [his friend, Alan Clancy] and Neil on the way home in the car. I don’t even know what I said. It was just a vent. Then we went over to Conor’s house [his manager, Conor Ridge] for dinner and I stayed there until ten o’clock.
PK: How’s Wendy at moments like that?
SL: She doesn’t say much. She knows the story by now, but I was fine. I only need a half an hour. And everyone was still fairly bullish about the position I was in — tied fourth and playing in the second last group … but here I was driving back from the course on Saturday night feeling disappointed.
PK: Did you sleep well Saturday night?
SL: Yeah, really well.
PK: And you’ve a long wait before teeing off on Sunday?
SL: Yeah, but it was fine. I love my coffee so I had two trips to Starbucks on Sunday morning … watched a bit of Norwich and Burnley on TV and called over to my dad’s house and chilled-out for an hour and then came back and got ready.
PK: Did you talk to Neil?
SL: We met ten minutes before I went to the range.
PK: Is he talking or are you talking?
SL: He was just asking how I feel, but I was very switched on; I knew what I was doing. It’s amazing how we think as golfers: I felt like I could have a run and maybe have a go at the tournament but in the back of my head I’m also thinking, ‘I don’t want to have a shit week either.’ I could have shot four over and gone from contending in the Masters 24 hours earlier to finishing nowhere. So that was our conversation on Sunday morning — my one bit of anxiousness about having a really bad day.
PK: And you start well: par, birdie, par. What happens on four?
SL: Basically, I have a bit of a gap between my three and four-iron; I hit my three-iron 240 and my four-iron 220 and the hole was playing 221 into the wind. So I couldn’t get a four-iron there but I felt three-iron was a lot of club, so I tried to aim left and hit a high cut, and just hit an awful shot.
PK: Triple bogey.
SL: Yeah, I was so disappointed because I’d worked my nuts off for months, and that was my tournament done … one swing!
PK: How do you come back from that?
SL: I said to Bo on the next tee, ‘Well that’s taken the hope away Bo. We don’t have to stress for the next three hours trying to win the Masters.’ It was such a disaster that it was almost calming, but I was like, ‘F**k!’
PK: A lot of guys would quit. I’d quit.
SL: If you quit in that situation you’re in the wrong game; I made a great par on the next and that was huge, then a good putt for birdie on six and then a great par on seven. And then (laughs) … I saw Rory’s name on the leaderboard and that spurred me on.
PK: Did it?
SL: Yeah, I wanted to catch him.
SL: I did! I thought, (laughs) ‘That little f****r!’ It definitely kept me going.
PK: That’s brilliant.
SL: He sent me a text last night, ‘Great week. Well done.’ I said, ‘Yeah, great round today.’ He said, ‘Great to finish second and third.’ I said, ‘Yeah, but I would rather it was me second and you third to be honest.’
https://www.independent.ie/sport/golf/us-masters/paul-kimmage-meets-shane-lowry-i-fk-up-and-i-let-it-out-thats-what-i-do-and-am-i-going-to-change-for-anyone-no-41560294.html Paul Kimmage meets Shane Lowry: ‘I f**k up and I let it out, that’s what I do. And am I going to change for anyone? No’